Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

The Best Online Fax Services of 2020

By Andrew Martins,
business.com Writer
| Updated
Oct 07, 2020

Online fax services are growing as more companies divest from conventional fax machines in favor of an automated, scalable and cost-effective option. Here's a look at some of the best online fax services on the market. 
Featured Sponsor
Supports incoming and outgoing faxes
Three service plans
Mobile app for iOS and Android
Best for HIPAA Compliance
Unlimited storage at all levels
HIPAA compliance and SSL encryption
60-day free trial
Best Overall Online Fax Service
Feature-rich platform
Four pricing plans
E-signature options
Best For Multiple Users
Up to 50 users per group
Free toll-free numbers
Web-based interface
Best Free Incoming Online Fax Service
50 free received pages per month
Free storage of up to 1,000 pages
Easy-to-use platform
GotFreeFax
Best Free Outgoing Online Fax Service
Read Review
Free cover page
No ads on free outgoing faxes
Fax broadcasting included
GotFreeFax - Best Pay-Per-Use Online Fax
Best Pay-as-You-Go Online Fax Service
Read Review
Up to 30 pages per faxed document
International faxing available
Simple and flexible platform
Online fax services are growing as more companies divest from conventional fax machines in favor of an automated, scalable and cost-effective option. Here's a look at some of the best online fax services on the market. 
Updated 10/07/20

We updated the mFax review to reflect recent product updates that add some more features.

Overview of Online Fax Services

 

Online fax services are an easy and convenient way to transmit documents between offices without relying on costly paper, ink or a dedicated machine. To help you decide which service may be right for your business, we spent weeks researching and evaluating dozens of options. We considered a host of factors – including cost, ease of use, added features and customer service – to determine the online fax services we think are best.

You can read more below about the services we think are best and why, the features you should look for in an online fax service, the cost structure for these services, and some important online faxing regulations to know. In addition, you can hear from those who use online fax services about the platforms they use and what they like about them. 

 
How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
27
Considered
16
Researched
5
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  RingCentral mFax SRFax GotFreeFax FaxBetter
Email faxing support Send and receive Send and receive Send and receive Web-based service; no email support Send and receive
Mobile app iOS and Android No app; web-based No app; web-based No app; web-based No app; web-based
Fax number selection Toll-free, local and vanity numbers available; can transfer existing fax number Toll-free number included; more available for a cost; can transfer existing fax number Toll-free and local numbers available; can transfer existing fax number No fax numbers for personal use Toll-free number provided at signup (free account must be used weekly to keep)
Inbox and/or outbox Both Both Both Outbox only Outbox only with free account; both with paid account

Our Reviews

eFax: Featured Sponsor

eFax supports both the sending and receiving of online faxes. It boasts a user-friendly interface on the web and an easily navigated mobile application that is free of charge to account holders. eFax offers unlimited fax storage, as well as 24/7 customer support by phone, email and live chat. eFax enables the sending and receiving of online faxes by multiple methods, including online portal, email attachment or mobile device. eFax lets you take a picture of a document with your mobile device and send it directly as a fax as well. It also includes a digital signature feature and file-sharing option at no additional cost. 

To sign up with eFax, you must choose between two plans: eFax Plus and eFax Pro. The eFax Plus plan offers a monthly allotment of 150 pages of incoming faxes and 150 pages of outgoing faxes for $16.95 per month. If you sign up for one year of service, you get two months free. The eFax Pro plan increases the number of both incoming and outgoing faxes to 200 each at a cost of $19.95 per month, or $199.50 per year. eFax charges a 10 cent overage fee for every fax sent beyond your monthly limit. There is also a $10 setup fee with both plans.

More

SRFax: Best for HIPAA Compliance

SRFax has strict encryption protocols for HIPAA compliance.
Plans start as low as $3.29 per month.
There is no mobile app support.

Medical practices all over the world rely on faxing to quickly get sensitive patient data into the right hands. However, they must do so in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and its Canadian equivalent, the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). With such stringent guidelines from the federal government, these small businesses have to rely on an online fax provider that can follow the law in order to securely handle sensitive data. In our research, we found that SRFax offers multiple levels of data encryption without sacrificing functionality.

Like nearly every other online fax company, SRFax has multiple service tiers, including its standard and healthcare-specific plans. Each standard plan comes with a 60-day free trial, while the HIPAA-compliant plans have a 30-day free trial.

Standard plans range from the Basic plan, which comes with 25 pages of faxes for $3.29 per month, to the Standard Professional plan, which comes with 2,500 pages per month and costs $45.95 per month. Each of those plans also includes multiple individual user accounts and unlimited online storage. Only some of those plans include unlimited authorized email addresses, however.

These are the healthcare-specific plans, which offer additional security measures and optional PGP encryption:

  • Healthcare Lite: This HIPAA-compliant plan includes 200 pages and costs $7.95 per month (or $6.50 per month with annual payment).
  • Healthcare Basic: This plan includes 500 pages and costs $10.95 per month (or $9 per month with annual payment).
  • Healthcare Basic Plus: This plan includes 800 pages and costs $16.95 per month (or $14 per month with annual payment).
  • Healthcare Standard: This plan includes 1,500 pages and costs $30.95 per month (or $26.20 per month with annual payment).
  • Healthcare Standard Plus: This plan includes 2,500 pages and costs $49.95 per month (or $42.50 per month with annual payment).
  • Healthcare Professional: This plan includes 5,000 pages and costs $92.95 per month (or $83 per month with annual payment).
  • Healthcare Professional Plus: This plan includes 10,000 pages and costs $185 per month (or $165 per month with annual payment). Each additional page costs 3 cents.
  • Healthcare Professional Premium: This plan includes 20,000 pages and costs $395 per month (or $360 per month with annual payment). Each additional page costs 2.5 cents.

By now, everyone should be aware that there are people on the internet who try to obtain sensitive data for personal gain. Without proper safeguards, that data can put customers at risk. SRFax has implemented safeguards to help keep that from happening. SRFax has 2048-bit SSL certification, 2048-bit RSA public keys, PGP encryption and conventional password protection for its transmissions. In addition, each user gets an encrypted session ID cookie that detects when they're logged in to the system. Once they're online, their communications are encrypted.

The safety precautions don't stop there. SRFax keeps its production equipment outside of its employees' reach; only its team of approved engineers and security specialists has access to it. The facility housing SRFax's equipment is under guard 24/7 and has generators and other backup equipment to ensure continual security and uptime. The company's dedication to encryption and data security is among the most impressive of the companies we researched.

While SRFax has an intuitive interface and supports both sending and receiving faxes, it does not have its own mobile app for either iOS or Android. However, the service is accessible from any internet browser.

Though SRFax is certainly impressive when it comes to data protection, we were a little let down by not being able to digitally sign or update faxes prior to transmission. This may not be a major problem for most businesses, but medical practitioners may need this feature if they and their patients prefer not to print and scan documents that require signatures.

September 2020: Earlier this year, SRFax was acquired by online communications giant J2 Global. According to J2 Global, SRFax was added to the company's Cloud Services division, joining other companies like eFax, eVoice, iContact and KeepItSafe. According to J2 Global, the acquisition will help grow their customer base, offer access to new markets and expand its product lineup.

 

More

RingCentral Fax: Best Overall Online Fax Service

You can store up to 200 faxes indefinitely.
Native iOS and Android apps are available.
There's no low-volume option for smaller businesses.

RingCentral is our pick as the best online fax service for small businesses, thanks in large part to its robust feature set, intuitive interface and strong security measures to keep sensitive data away from prying eyes.

RingCentral offers four pricing plans for its online faxing service, though only two – Fax 1500 and Fax Unlimited – are prominently featured on its main page. Each service tier includes a single shared fax number, though you can purchase additional numbers for $4.99 per month per user. The company offers these pricing tiers:

  • Fax 750: With support for up to 750 pages sent and/or received in a given month, this plan costs $12.99 per month with an annual subscription and $14.99 for a monthly subscription. Each page sent or received above the monthly allotment costs an additional 5.9 cents. Customer support over the phone is not available for this tier.

  • Fax 1500: For $17.99 per month with an annual subscription or $22.99 for a monthly subscription, this plan supports up to 1,500 pages and charges 4.9 cents per additional page.

  • Fax 2500: Under this plan, you can send and receive up to 2,500 pages in a month for $49.99 per month with an annual subscription or $59.99 for a monthly subscription. Each page above 2,500 costs an additional 3.9 cents.

  • Fax Unlimited: Listed as the "corporate plan," this tier includes unlimited faxing, unlimited video meetings with screen sharing, unlimited team messaging with file sharing, and unlimited calls, texts and conference calling. You get all of that for $39.99 per month with an annual subscription or $49.99 for a monthly subscription.

Unlike some of its competitors, RingCentral doesn't offer a free service, though it does have a 30-day free trial. Also, each page is considered equal to one minute of service, meaning your internet connection's speed can impact what counts as a page in the company's calculations. If you have a speedy connection, your allotments will stretch a little further.

During setup, you can either keep your existing fax number or choose one from a list of toll-free, local and vanity numbers, with custom caller ID information available for free. You can then access faxes through the company's browser-based dashboard, a supported email client, or RingCentral's iOS and Android apps. RingCentral can integrate with many major business software suites, including Windows Office, Dropbox and Google Drive.

If your outgoing faxes require a signature beforehand, RingCentral's platform allows you to create an electronic signature to add to documents. You can also add digital annotations and create custom cover pages. Each fax you send and receive is converted into a PDF for easy reading on most machines, with the RingCentral platform able to support most common file formats.

While there's a lot to like about RingCentral, a few things about it may be a problem for some small businesses. The most glaring issue is that the company doesn't have a particularly low-volume option. Most small businesses don't need to send 750 pages in a month, so even the lowest tier might be overkill for some. It's also unfortunate that the company doesn't calculate pages on a 1-to-1 scale, since internet connectivity varies so much throughout the country. Any disparity can result in an uneven pricing system, which may turn off some users.

More

mFax: Best For Multiple Users

mFax automatically stores all sent and received faxes in the cloud.
It supports email-to-fax functionality.
You can't digitally edit or sign documents.

Small businesses consisting of multiple teams need an online fax service that accommodates more than one user at a given time. Throughout our research, we found mFax to be one of the more flexible options for companies in need of an easy online fax platform that accommodates their needs.

mFax's plans operate on a monthly or yearly basis, with multiple pricing options to cater to most small businesses. Each service tier offers a variation on the same package and does not require a setup fee or long-term contract.

Companies looking to take advantage of mFax's multi-user functionality will have to eschew the Solo tier. Though it's the cheapest option at $9 per month (or $84 per year), it does not allow for more than one user at a time, as the name suggests. Those who want multiple users on the same account need to sign up for the Team tier or higher. Along with a complimentary toll-free number, you can have additional fax numbers for an extra monthly fee.

If your small business needs to accommodate multiple users on the same account, you will need one of these plans:

  • Team: This plan costs $25 per month, or $20 per month with an annual subscription, for 500 pages and up to five users. Additional pages cost 8 cents each. Additional toll-free numbers cost $4 each per month.

  • Business: This plan costs $50 per month, or $40 per month with an annual subscription, for 1,000 pages and up to 15 users. Additional pages cost 6 cents each. Additional toll-free numbers cost $3 each per month.

  • Infinity: This plan costs $95 per month, or $80 per month with an annual subscription, for 2,500 pages. It supports up to 50 users, and you can add even more users for $2 each per month. Additional pages cost 4 cents each, and additional toll-free numbers cost $2 each per month.

With its intuitive web-based interface, mFax allows you to both send and receive messages. It gives all member accounts a toll-free fax number to use and has full fax-to-email functionality. If you'd rather send faxes through your computer's word processor, mFax provides a free print-to-fax driver that gives any program with printing capabilities the ability to send faxes.

October 2020: mFax's parent company, Documo, has added more features to its online faxing capabilities with its recent mDrive update. With the move to version 3.4.5, users can save faxes directly to mDrive, view information of each fax there, drag and drop faxes into folders, and give account administrators the ability to limit their own access to specific products.

The overall interface is reminiscent of most web-based email clients. All incoming and outgoing faxes are stored in the system, while all saved files are stored and encrypted in the cloud. You can add tags to each fax to allow simple categorizing and easy searching later.

While we found plenty to appreciate about mFax's online fax solution, we were a little concerned that the company's international faxing capabilities remain in beta. With global business being so inextricably connected through the internet, it's not a stretch to consider a situation where mFax's limited overseas scope could be an issue. In its current form, mFax can only send messages to 23 countries other than the U.S. and Canada.

Another point of concern is the inability to digitally edit or sign faxes before you send them. Anyone interested in the convenience of a digital signature feature and its potential paper waste reduction should keep this omission in mind.

More

FaxBetter: Best Free Incoming Online Fax Service

All paid plans have unlimited storage.
It provides features for free that most companies charge extra for.
It requires an advertising browser extension.

For companies that only need to receive faxes without the use of a traditional fax machine, there aren't that many options out there. Most online fax solutions tend to focus on sending messages, so we were happy to name FaxBetter as our best pick for free incoming fax solution after testing out the service.

What you get for no cost may or may not be enough for your small business. When you sign up for a free account (which FaxBetter does not require a credit card to do, unlike some of its competitors), you can receive up to 20 pages per month without paying a cent.

Once you go over the 20-page allotment, a paid option of $9.95 per month (with automatic renewal) becomes available. The price goes down if you opt for an annual or biannual subscription at $95.40 or $142.80 respectively. Through this paid account, you get 500 pages per month to work with and can send faxes as well. The paid account also comes with unlimited lifetime storage.

FaxBetter is a fax-to-email service, meaning incoming faxes are treated similarly to any type of email you may receive. This company's interface is very similar to any email application you may have used, with incoming faxes arriving in a virtual inbox like the one you would find in Gmail or Microsoft Outlook. FaxBetter lets you manage your inbox, sort faxes and apply labels to faxes for better searchability.

FaxBetter's free incoming fax plan gives your business a dedicated toll-free number to use and enough digital storage to file away up to 1,000 pages for the life of the account. That last part is important, since you only get 60 days to retrieve any files you want once your account is deactivated. After that window, everything is permanently deleted.

Bringing up the potential for account deactivation highlights a major downside to FaxBetter's free service. To maintain your account, you must use it at a fairly regular pace. If you do not receive any faxes within seven days, you will lose the free fax number the company gave you. That can obviously cause problems for your business if you gave that number out to clients and leads. If your company receives faxes infrequently, you will either need to ensure you receive a fax at least once a week with your existing free account and fax number or get accustomed to signing up for a new account (and number) anytime you need to receive a fax.

More

GotFreeFax: Best Free Outgoing Online Fax Service

Faxes are sent through an encrypted connection.
The entire interface is located on one page.
There is no option to receive faxes.

Not every small business that faxes documents needs to sign up for a monthly subscription to an online fax solution. For small businesses that only fax every once in a while, GotFreeFax is our best pick for a pay-per-use fax service and the best free outgoing online fax service, thanks to its simple interface and flexibility as a platform.

Note that this company only deals in sending faxes, whether you use the free service or not. Still, with a name like GotFreeFax, it's good to know that its free version is a capable tool for small businesses that may not send many faxes on a regular basis. Under its free offering, GotFreeFax lets you send two faxes a day, each with a three-page maximum. For anything more than that, you will need to rely on the company's pay-per-use or prepaid business service tier.

Through GotFreeFax's paid offerings, you gain access to more features and the ability to send more faxes. Both paid service tiers eschew the monthly subscription fee that GotFreeFax's competitors regularly charge, charging instead by the number of pages being sent at any given time. For example, this is the normal pay-per-use model's pricing structure:

  • Up to 10 pages: 98 cents
  • Up to 20 pages: $1.98
  • Up to 30 pages: $2.98

Under the business prepaid service, you can purchase page credits that never expire and can be used at any time. Businesses that choose this plan also get access to the fax broadcasting feature, allowing one fax to be sent to multiple recipients. This arrangement makes sense for companies that only have occasional faxing needs but know they will fax documents in the future. This tier's pricing structure deals in the hundreds and thousands of pages, so your potential volume makes a difference.

  • 100 page credits: $9.95
  • 300 page credits: $19.95
  • 1,000 page credits: $49.95

While GotFreeFax has competitive prices for its pay-per-use and business prepaid services, it would be natural to wonder if the company skimps on any features. We found that GotFreeFax still offers some basic features along with its simple, single-page interface and apparent disinterest in forcing people to sign up for an account. You can edit the body of your fax in a simple HTML-enabled text box, which has rich text formatting options to enhance the visual flair of your message. You can also create cover pages in the text field; upload one as a separate PDF, JPEG or DOC file; or use GotFreeFax's ad-free option.

As for data security measures, GotFreeFax sends its messages through its servers that are managed by certified engineers, secured by Gateway AntiVirus software and sent over an encrypted connection.

While free or nearly free is always better than paying too much for a service, those low costs often have a caveat. In GotFreeFax's case, that caveat is no inbound fax services. While GotFreeFax recommends either RingCentral or Faxage for that service, we also suggest you consider FaxBetter, our best pick for free incoming fax service.

Of course, you get what you pay for with GotFreeFax, so you should temper your expectations for the features and functionality. This service doesn't have many of the nice features that come with paid plans, such as document storage, a mobile app and software integration.

More

GotFreeFax - Best Pay-Per-Use Online Fax: Best Pay-as-You-Go Online Fax Service

Faxes are sent through an encrypted connection.
The entire interface is located on one page.
There is no option to receive faxes.

Not every small business that faxes documents needs to sign up for a monthly subscription to an online fax solution. For small businesses that only fax every once in a while, GotFreeFax is our best pick for a pay-per-use fax service and the best free outgoing online fax service, thanks to its simple interface and flexibility as a platform.

Note that this company only deals in sending faxes, whether you use the free service or not. Still, with a name like GotFreeFax, it's good to know that its free version is a capable tool for small businesses that may not send many faxes on a regular basis. Under its free offering, GotFreeFax lets you send two faxes a day, each with a three-page maximum. For anything more than that, you will need to rely on the company's pay-per-use or prepaid business service tier.

Through GotFreeFax's paid offerings, you gain access to more features and the ability to send more faxes. Both paid service tiers eschew the monthly subscription fee that GotFreeFax's competitors regularly charge, charging instead by the number of pages being sent at any given time. For example, this is the normal pay-per-use model's pricing structure:

  • Up to 10 pages: 98 cents
  • Up to 20 pages: $1.98
  • Up to 30 pages: $2.98

Under the business prepaid service, you can purchase page credits that never expire and can be used at any time. Businesses that choose this plan also get access to the fax broadcasting feature, allowing one fax to be sent to multiple recipients. This arrangement makes sense for companies that only have occasional faxing needs but know they will fax documents in the future. This tier's pricing structure deals in the hundreds and thousands of pages, so your potential volume makes a difference.

  • 100 page credits: $9.95
  • 300 page credits: $19.95
  • 1,000 page credits: $49.95

While GotFreeFax has competitive prices for its pay-per-use and business prepaid services, it would be natural to wonder if the company skimps on any features. We found that GotFreeFax still offers some basic features along with its simple, single-page interface and apparent disinterest in forcing people to sign up for an account. You can edit the body of your fax in a simple HTML-enabled text box, which has rich text formatting options to enhance the visual flair of your message. You can also create cover pages in the text field; upload one as a separate PDF, JPEG or DOC file; or use GotFreeFax's ad-free option.

As for data security measures, GotFreeFax sends its messages through its servers that are managed by certified engineers, secured by Gateway AntiVirus software and sent over an encrypted connection.

While free or nearly free is always better than paying too much for a service, those low costs often have a caveat. In GotFreeFax's case, that caveat is no inbound fax services. While GotFreeFax recommends either RingCentral or Faxage for that service, we also suggest you consider FaxBetter, our best pick for free incoming fax service.

Of course, you get what you pay for with GotFreeFax, so you should temper your expectations for the features and functionality. This service doesn't have many of the nice features that come with paid plans, such as document storage, a mobile app and software integration.

More

Pricing

When considering an online fax provider, you should have an idea of how many faxes you'll generally need to send and receive in a month. Most online fax providers charge a monthly subscription fee largely based on how many faxes will be sent and/or received in any given month. If you were to go over that allotment, an overage charge may be levied against your account, though this is usually only a few cents for each additional page. We didn't find many companies that charge a setup fee, and they were usually only $10 or less in the rare case they existed.

Generally, costs range from $3 to $50 a month, with a significant number of pages allotted. More robust feature sets, like support for a higher number of users on each account and customization options, are usually available at higher pricing tiers. Though very few small businesses will be able to take advantage of most services' corporate packages, these plans offer the ability to send and receive a high volume of faxes (at a significantly higher price range).

If you don't need too many bells and whistles attached to your faxes or have high-volume needs, a pay-per-use model may be the cost-effective choice. Those providers generally only allow for sending faxes and charge for each page transmitted through their service.

Buying Guide

Online Fax Service Features

When choosing an online fax service for your small business, you should consider which features matter the most to you. If your company only needs to receive faxes from time to time, you don't need a service with a high monthly page allotment for sending faxes. If you run a medical practice, it would behoove you to seek out a service with stringent data protection measures.

After extensively researching the online fax industry, we noted several basic features that are widely available and beneficial to most businesses. If you're shopping around for an online fax service, keep an eye out for these features in the average service plan:

  • Intuitive interface: Usability is paramount in today's high-tech world, and online fax services are no different. Without an easily understandable interface, users are often left wondering if their faxes were in the right file format, included a cover letter or were even sent at all. An online fax company should offer an understandable web interface, with some also including mobile apps in the mix. If you can easily navigate a company's system, you will spend less time with customer support and more time getting your documents and messages where they need to go.

  • Included fax number: Many of today's online services include a fax number, with the option to purchase additional ones on the side. While most online fax services can operate by email these days, a dedicated fax number allows others to easily send messages to your account through a traditional fax machine. Some companies offer to include or charge an additional fee for a toll-free, local or vanity number. Whether those specialty numbers are an important feature depends entirely on your company's needs.

  • App support: Nearly everyone has a smartphone, so any company that provides a mobile app instantly gets a leg up on its competition. The ability to access your online fax account anywhere can be a major help if you and your employees are often on the go. Being able to scan and send faxes through a mobile device is also helpful for that purpose. When looking at this feature, make sure that the app supports your mobile device's operating system.

  • Number of users: Some companies need more than one or two employees to access the online fax account. We found that only certain vendors offer group plans, which come at a higher premium.

  • Electronic signature capabilities: Sometimes a digital fax needs to be signed before it can be sent. Being able to affix a signature to a digital file before transmission isn't a very common feature among the vendors we researched, but that capability supports one of the biggest benefits of the technology. Being able to sign a document online means you no longer have to print it out, sign it and scan it back into a digital format before sending it.

Community Experts

There are many reasons why you would want to sign your small business up for an online fax service. To better understand why some have made the switch, we sought out and discussed the topic with individuals from companies that have done so.

For Ryan Turner, co-owner of 3Prime Web Solutions, the decision to switch from a physical fax machine to MyFax came down to efficiency.

"Managing a traditional fax machine seemed ridiculous to us, and having to segment the phone number or, worse, get a dedicated line seems wasteful," he said.

Though he is considering looking into a different service since his business doesn't send as many faxes as it used to, Turner said his company has "never had an issue with [online fax]. We create documents and upload them to fax. It's much easier to work with than the fax machines I remember."

Similarly, Alex Kovalenko, director of IT recruitment at Kovasys, said the switch hinged on how much his company was paying for an extra phone line to operate a traditional fax machine. "We no longer need to pay a separate line for faxes, which would cost us around $40 to $50 a month, when online fax only costs around $10 a month."

While a cost analysis may prompt one company to make the switch, Burial Insurance Pro founder Matt Schmidt said ease of use and accessibility was important to his team's needs.

"Our faxes now come into our email system and can immediately be downloaded into our sales system," he said. "This also allows us to immediately send off the documents to the appropriate party, without any further scanning or downloading."

As these services reduce the need to purchase ink and paper, some environmentally conscious companies naturally make the switch to an online fax solution. Torben Lonne, diver and co-founder of online magazine DIVEIN.com, said his company has used RingCentral's fax service for years because of its lighter carbon footprint.

"The amount of paper generated by fax machines is completely unnecessary nowadays where we can digitize everything," he said.

Online Faxing Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of online faxing?

Perhaps the most touted reason to adopt an online faxing service is to reduce office costs. An office fax machine often requires constant attention. Regular maintenance, ink and toner costs, and dips in productivity as employees stand around a machine while they send or wait to receive faxes are eliminated when the entire process can be done online from a person's desk.

Fax providers often allow you to store your sent and received faxes online. For some businesses, especially ones with regulatory requirements for faxing, it can be a lifesaver to store messages digitally instead of printing out the documents and stuffing them in filing cabinets. Some service providers make the faxes searchable so you can easily find them later.

Companies looking to go green could also find online faxing beneficial, as each message is transmitted over the internet and stored in the cloud. With no need to print documents, there is less paper waste.

What is the difference between online faxing and regular faxing?

The biggest difference between online faxing and regular faxing is the removal of a dedicated piece of office equipment from the equation. Such machines can cost thousands of dollars, with additional costs in the form of paper, ink and toner replacement, and a dedicated telephone line for transmission. Online faxing, however, just needs an internet-capable device and a stable internet connection to send and receive digital files.

How do you send free faxes online?

While the best online fax solutions charge either a monthly or one-time fee to use their services, there are some ways to send an online fax for free. The easiest to consider are the free alternatives available online. In fact, we've reviewed a free incoming fax service as part of this section, so be sure to read our FaxBetter review to see why it's our best pick for free incoming faxes.

You are unlikely to find any free fax solution that lets you send faxes, since the action of transmitting a file requires more effort from a company's server than receiving a file does. Any company that says it offers its online fax sending services for free usually mean it offers a free trial, after which you'll be charged a monthly fee. If you find such a service, be sure to read the fine print before agreeing to anything. 

What should you look for in an online fax service?

The easiest answer to this question is "it depends." The faxing solution that will work best for you depends on how much you intend to use it and what features you require.

Good fax service providers feature a combination of three things: secure incoming and outgoing fax capabilities, an easy-to-use interface or integration with existing services, and stellar customer service. 

Can you fax through Wi-Fi? 

One of the benefits to using an online fax service is the need for less equipment. Rather than relying on a clunky piece of office machinery to send faxes through a land-based telephone line, online faxing just requires a functioning computer, a working internet connection, and the digital file or group of files you're looking to transmit.

While it doesn't matter if your internet connection is hardwired or transmitted via Wi-Fi, you should make sure your wireless connection is strong and consistent during transmission. Any interruptions in the sending or receiving process can cause transmission issues with the documents.

What are the different kinds of online fax services? When it comes to choosing which online fax service you want to utilize, it's important to consider how you want to send and receive faxes in the first place. Depending on the service, multiple methods can be available to you at the same time, largely depending on the devices you have on hand.

In most cases, services will be of the "fax from web" variety, which allow you to send and/or receive faxes through your internet browser. This method employs a web-based dashboard that houses your Inbox and your Sent messages folder, as well as a long list of settings that you can change.

In a similar fashion, some services offer email-to-fax or fax-to-email. This type of service allows users to utilize their email provider to send and receive faxes. Users that opt for this method generally send faxes by entering the recipient's fax number into the "To" field, with the service's website (e.g. @onlinefax.net) at the end of the number. If someone wants to send a fax to you though this service, they will do the same, entering your fax number and service provider's domain name into the "To" field.

Some of the more modern services allow for mobile online faxing. With this style, you can use your mobile device as a de facto fax machine. This usually requires an app so you can send and receive faxes anywhere.

There are some rare cases where an online fax service can provide a device to act as a bridge between your office's existing fax machine to the internet. With that device installed, your online faxing capabilities still eliminate the need for a dedicated land-based telephone line but keeps your existing equipment intact.

How do you choose the best online fax service?

The answer to this question is highly subjective. If your business needs to only occasionally send or receive a fax, then you should consider a service that charges on a per-use basis. If you need something a little more consistent, then a service with a monthly subscription will be best for your small business. Companies that need to keep their data safe and secure should consider an online fax service that offers strong data protections. To that end, you want to find a company that also caters to healthcare providers and other institutions that handle sensitive documents.

In all honesty, you can choose the best online fax service by considering your business's needs and looking for a company that can fill those needs. Price, reliability, security and functionality should factor into your decision.

Do you need any additional devices to use an online fax service? In most instances, if you have a Mac or PC that's connected to the internet, you are good to go when it comes to using an online fax service. Most services simply need an internet browser to operate. In special cases, however, some services let users download apps to their phones to send and receive faxes, while in some cases, a service can sell a special bridge device to allow legacy faxing equipment to connect to the online fax service.

Our Methodology

We researched several online faxing vendors, including their plans and features. We began by compiling a list of vendors. In addition to the service providers we were already familiar with, we added vendors we found in our research, those that regularly appeared on other reputable online lists and reviews, and companies that reached out to us asking to be considered for review.

Next, we went to each vendor's website, noting their features and pricing structures. When available, we took advantage of trial periods, watched product demos and tutorials, and sent sample faxes to gain firsthand experience of the service. We eliminated companies whose plans contained lots of hidden fees and/or that charged exorbitant over-limit fees.

For the next phase of our research, we reached out to our finalists, posing as a potential customer. We posed a series of questions to customer service reps from each company, noting the quality of service we received.

To arrive at our final determination, we considered which companies offered the best balance of affordability, robust features and ease of use. Here are the criteria we used to evaluate each online fax software provider:

  • Pricing structure. We looked for faxing services that offered a variety of plans, making them accessible to businesses with a range of faxing needs and budgets.

  • Fax limits and overage fees. In nearly every instance, vendors offer multiple plans with different limits regarding the numbers of pages a user can send or receive. The higher the service tier, the more frequently faxes can be transmitted. Along with the page limit, nearly every company charges an overage fee if more faxes are sent or received than the number allotted in the plan.

  • Features. We specifically looked for features that make it easier to send and receive faxes, such as scheduled delivery, electronic signature, the ability to edit documents, the option of sending faxes to multiple recipients simultaneously and integration with modern software suites.

  • International and toll-free faxing. Around the world, faxes are still used. Some fax services will sell you a fax number in a foreign country; most services, though, let you send international faxes for a small fee. Many services offer toll-free faxing, which is an added bonus for your clients and customers if you frequently fax documents back and forth.

  • Mobile access. Most business people never go anywhere without their cellphones. We sought out services that either offer their own mobile app or allow users to send and receive faxes through a web browser.

  • Ease of use. In addition to convenient features and fair pricing, we prized services that had an simple, intuitive interface. We relied on product demos and trial versions to determine how easy it was to send and receive a fax.

One major trend in the online faxing industry is consolidation. J2 Global has acquired more than a dozen online fax brands. During our research, we came across numerous consumer complaints about unfair billing practices, poor customer service and almost scam-like practices, which have led to J2 Global and its holdings receiving an F rating from the Better Business Bureau. Customers report similar problems on Consumer Affairs and the Complaints Board.

While some of these subsidiary companies are listed below on our vendor's list, in each case, we have noted their parent company and eliminated them from consideration as a best pick.

If you're considering using one of these services, carefully research whether or not the company is the best option for your business.

 

Faxing Regulations

Like most industries in the U.S., online fax services are largely regulated by the government. In particular, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has the ability to levy strict fines and penalties for unsolicited "junk faxes." In 2005, the Junk Fax Prevention Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush to end the proliferation of unsolicited junk faxes.

Under that law, penalties start at $500 for each page sent without following the government's strict guidelines. Only if they meet the following criteria are junk faxes legal to send:

  • You receive the recipient's number as part of a contract or application.
  • You find the contact information on an advertisement or directory, assuming it does not state that the contact won't accept unsolicited faxes.
  • You have ensured that the person you're faxing agreed to have their information listed on the directory or advertisement.

In the event that you are legally able to send an unsolicited fax, the legislation requires you to give your recipients a way to opt out of future faxes. The notice must include your contact information on the first page of any documents you send, and you must reply within 30 days of receiving an opt-out request. Fax laws vary by location, so make sure you understand the laws in your area before you start sending faxes.

Other major regulations surrounding the internet have a potential impact on online faxing, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Having gone into effect at the start of the year, CCPA has been billed by government officials as California's version of GDPR. While both regulations focus on consumer data rights, companies would be remiss to imagine their compliance with the EU's law automatically puts them in compliance with CCPA. For instance, the latter regulation doesn't apply to companies that refrain from doing business in California. Given that online fax solutions operate over the internet, which has no inherent borders, companies will likely have to decide between restricting California fax numbers or being forced to change how customer data is protected, stored and deleted.

While all these regulations are something to consider when seeking out an online fax provider, companies that operate outside of the U.S. may not have to abide by the Junk Fax Prevention Act or CCPA. Thanks to the universal nature of the internet, however, they may still have to adhere to the GDPR if their fax senders or recipients fall under its jurisdiction.

Data Security Warning

June 2020: One of the major selling points for online fax services may be in jeopardy, as a recent report from Gizmodo revealed some major security issues with the technology. The tech site says it located and identified "three separate commercial cloud storage servers" containing scores of faxes that included private information.

Among the documents Gizmodo found were sensitive items like "insurance claims, invoices, government forms, family photos, checks, prescription information, bank account details, and Social Security numbers." In many cases, those documents could be downloaded by anyone "for years."

The main issue here is the use of Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3), which many companies use to store files. This stems from developers who make S3 file buckets public for testing but fail to switch them over to private, leaving sensitive data exposed.

Though Gizmodo refrains from naming specific online fax services, prospective users of the technology should read the report and make up their own minds. With files dating as far back as 2013, this lack of data security is something everyone should think about before signing up for an online fax service.

State of the Industry

Considering all of the technological upgrades that have happened since the widespread adoption of faxing in the '80s, it may seem counterintuitive to consider faxing as a realistic office need in 2020. With the advent of online faxing, though, this industry actually shows signs of considerable growth.

According to a report from Arizton, the global online fax market is estimated to grow to over $2.4 billion by 2022. The report pointed to "the advancement in technology and flexibility provided by online fax vendors [to] enable organizations to automate their fax solutions" as a "major driver for the growth of the market." That value is driven by the obvious factors that drive most digitization: increased efficiency, reduced expenditures, scalability through a SaaS model and superior service.

Couple the perceived efficiency and cost savings of online faxing with the environmental friendliness of needing less ink and paper, and you have an online-based industry that will surely see further adoption in North American and European markets over the next few years.

With the passage of data privacy regulations like the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act, online faxing is sure to gain even more traction. The largest contributor to the industry's growth is expected to be the healthcare industry, which has to follow HIPAA guidelines that require patient records to be transferred via fax for security reasons.

Since fax service providers bolster security through encryption, provide speedy transmissions, digitally store files, reduce an organization's paper use and decrease maintenance costs, small businesses are likely to continue switching to digital faxing solutions.

Consolidation has already begun and is poised to continue in what remains a crowded and competitive industry. As leaders emerge, it is likely the industry will continue to consolidate, driving the growth of a few prominent companies.

What to Expect in 2020

The concept of faxing may seem antiquated, but market experts anticipate 2020 will continue a trend of growth in the cloud faxing industry that's expected to last into 2025. Reports also suggest the global online fax market will grow to over $2.4 billion by 2022.

According to researchers at Advance Market Analytics, the global cloud fax market is anticipated to grow by 9.16% by 2024. They largely attribute this increase to the influx of small and midsize enterprises consistently adopting the technology because of its "cost-effective faxing solution and technological advancement." As more companies expand into international markets, faxing over the internet is even more appealing, since large faxes can be sent much more quickly online than through traditional machines.

In addition to continued market growth, the online faxing industry will likely continue to be the subject of legislative scrutiny as governmental bodies around the world regulate and secure various facets of the internet. Existing regulations, such as those in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), have long impacted the industry and its need to securely transmit sensitive data. In the coming years, more regulations aiming to protect personal data will cause companies like J2 Global to continue pushing for higher data security and privacy standards to meet regulations and potentially head legislators off at the pass.

April 2020: As the coronavirus continues to disrupt small businesses, some online fax companies have opted to share their services for a heavily discounted rate or for free. These offers are generally available for the duration of the pandemic, though some companies are providing their services for a set number of months. For example, Fax.Plus is offering a free month of its Enterprise annual plans through the end of April.

Similarly, RingCentral is providing the RingCentral Office plan for free to impacted healthcare providers, schools, community colleges, news and media publishers, public sector companies, and nonprofit organizations that sign up as new customers. Along with online fax capabilities, RingCentral Office includes VoIP phone service, a team messaging platform and online video meetings with up to 200 people. Existing Office Essential and Standard customers also benefit from the promotion's increased meeting participant limit.

In addition to offering free access to services, some companies have stepped up by providing logistical support to the recovery effort. Throughout the crisis, Nextiva, which offers online faxing, has provided its VoIP service to support a pair of United Way virtual telethons on both U.S. coasts. Along with some tech support from the Nextiva team, approximately $2.6 million was raised to support communities battling COVID-19.

May 2020: Online fax is an important service for healthcare providers, and as they continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, J2 Global has offered to provide free access to an "on-demand patient record query" through the company's Consensus healthcare platform.

Designed to help healthcare providers be more fleet of foot, Consensus combines multiple aspects of J2 Global's holdings, including online fax, to help coordinate providers.

"Consensus can be used to quickly and securely obtain patient data on past and current conditions and treatments from a surrounding healthcare community. This helps enable care teams to make better decisions at the point of care," said Nate Simmons, president of J2 Cloud Services. "Consensus can be used by providers with or without an electronic health record system (EHR). Some EHRs already connect to Carequality. If not, Consensus users now have the benefit of on-demand query for no charge."

The full version of Consensus serves as an inbox-like platform that manages "all incoming and outgoing patient documents including cloud faxes, direct secure messaging, patient query and API integration into exchanges."

Andrew Martins
Andrew Martins,
business.com Writer
See Andrew Martins's Profile
I am a former newspaper editor who has transitioned to strictly cover the business world for business.com and Business News Daily. I am a four-time New Jersey Press Award winner and prior to joining my current team, I was the editor of six weekly newspapers that covered multiple counties in the state.
Image Credit: junce / Getty Images
Back to Top
Back to Top