The internet has changed the way businesses operate and has affected the technologies that are used for everyday business tasks, and that includes faxing.
But how did fax machines evolve into online fax service for businesses? How did it stay relevant despite the influx of other web-based file sharing technologies?
Fax machines used to rule the peer-to-peer document sharing niche in the business industry. When there was a document that needed to be shared over a long distance, faxing was the answer.
Of course, the birth of email has affected the usage of fax. People just found it more convenient to attach files to an email and send it directly to the recipient’s email account.
Under those circumstances, faxing, as a technology used by businesses, should have gone by the wayside and faded into history. After all, it is actually considered a historical relic—the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, has included fax machines in its collection.
But faxing didn’t stop being an integral part of how organizations conduct business. Many industries, including healthcare and finance, still use it for sending important documents, preferring it over other peer-to-peer file sharing tools like email and even outright requiring their contacts to employ it because it’s believed to be a more secure method of sharing files.
In fact, a lot of government agencies (including the FBI) still believe in the technology. So the belief that fax is going away is highly exaggerated.
It doesn’t mean, however, that it’s the same now as the way it used to be. The technology naturally needed to evolve into something more convenient to use in the context of the modern workplace.
This led to the birth of online fax.
To adapt to how today’s business environment works, fax had to take advantage of the biggest game-changer: the internet.
Online fax services are software or applications that allow businesses and their users to send and receive faxes over the internet.
There are two distinct qualities that separate online fax from traditional fax machines:
The first one is that online fax uses your computers, laptops, or mobile devices to send faxes. This allows businesses to send faxes without a fax machine. In fact, senders do not even have to print the document they have to send. Recipients receive it as a fax printout through their fax machines or as a PDF image via their own online fax account.
The other distinction is that the fax is sent through IP transmission. Instead of using the standard telephone connection, online fax uses the internet and internet protocols to send and receive a fax.
This is pretty similar to how VoIP works, but instead of voice data that goes back and forth in real time, online fax sends the image data of the document over one-way IP transmissions.
Before you can send and receive faxes over the internet, you need to subscribe to an online fax service first.
RingCentral is one of the industry leaders when it comes to internet faxing. In fact, you can get online faxing service as a stand-alone product through RingCentral Fax® plans or as part of a unified communications solution (complete with a cloud phone system, telephony, online meetings, and team messaging) with RingCentral Office® plans.
This computer fax software liberates your business from outdated fax machines and the limitations of faxing over traditional phone lines.
RingCentral allows you to manage incoming and outgoing faxes online so you and your employees can conduct business from anywhere as long as you have an IP-connected computer or mobile device.
There are multiple ways that you can send a fax online using RingCentral. You can send and receive faxes using:
RingCentral provides your business with a flexible and mobile online faxing service that allows you and your users to send and receive faxes from anywhere, on any internet-connected device, and on a multitude of platforms including email, your RingCentral online account, and the RingCentral app.
The days when you have to leave your desk, print a document, go to a fax machine, wait if someone else is using the fax machine, call the recipient, and ask for a fax tone just to send a single fax are gone.
Now, your business and its users are able to fax without interrupting anyone in the workplace. In fact, everyone can send faxes at the same time from wherever they are. Even if someone is using the phone, users are still able to receive their faxes in their online account.
With traditional faxing, traditional phone lines are used to send faxes. You either have a dedicated phone number exclusive for faxing or a phone number that shifts from faxing to calling and vice versa, but never at the same time. It is pretty inflexible and limits the use of the phone number.
With online fax service, businesses and their users are assigned a business phone number that can be used for faxing, calling, and voicemail—all at the same time. In addition, getting new phone numbers for faxing is so easy. Just go to your online admin account to purchase new phone numbers.
You also get to choose the phone number best for you, including toll-free numbers and local phone numbers.
Part of the reason why faxing still thrives as a file sharing tool is security, and RingCentral does not want to lose that benefit.
That is why RingCentral employs high-level encryption to protect faxes during IP transmissions. This prevents breach or interception while your fax is traveling over the internet.
Additionally, faxes are stored in password-protected accounts. This removes the need for fax machines to print out documents that could stay in fax trays for some time. That’s time the faxes are openly exposed to prying eyes, including those with negative intentions.
No more wondering if you were able to fax something to someone or not. No more arguing that you never received any faxes when the sender says that you already did.
RingCentral lets you view all the faxes you received in your online account, similar to how an email inbox works. It is able to store up to 200 faxes.
In addition to this, you can also view your fax logs to get a history of your faxing activities as an individual or as a company. See how often the company sends and receives faxes, and identify the users who are the most frequent users of the service as well.
Traditional faxing is just so basic. You dial the recipient’s fax phone number and send the fax. The same goes for receiving fax documents. There’s no option to send to multiple recipients and no option to block spam faxes.
RingCentral, however, is more than just your average online faxing service. Aside from letting you fax from multiple devices, it also provides several functions that you won’t get from traditional fax machines.
First, it allows you to send a single fax to multiple people. Add multiple recipients through the online account or through the RingCentral app. You can also add multiple fax phone numbers in the email address field if you use the fax via email option.
Second, you can schedule faxes in advance. If you need to send a fax on a certain date and at a specific time in the future, there is no need to go back to the office just to send it. You can go to your online account and follow the normal faxing procedure. However, instead of sending it now, you can schedule the fax for a later date and time.
Third, you can also block faxes from senders that do not have caller ID. This is to filter out the spam faxes and separate them from legitimate transmissions.
Lastly, you can also check the status of your faxes to see if they have been sent and receive notifications for faxes you received.
Another problem with traditional faxing that people rarely talk about is how bad it is for the environment.
First, there is the fax machine itself. It consumes power because it needs to be always on and adds to carbon emissions from your business. The machine itself is also a piece of hardware whose value depreciates over time as its quality deteriorates. In a few years, it will need to be thrown out and replaced. Where do you think it is going? To the landfills. And because most of the device is made of plastic, it will take hundreds of years for each one to decompose.
And that is just the fax machine. Now let us go to the amount of paper wasted through traditional faxing. It is one of the leading causes of unnecessary printouts (because there is no other option). If you want to receive all the faxes, you have to print everything—this increases the paper consumption of the business.
Fortunately, that is not the case with the RingCentral online fax service. It is easier to go paperless and help the environment because online faxing does not require senders and receivers to print out the fax. Faxes can be sent as a PDF image copy of documents. If there is a need to print a certain page, users can simply print that without printing the rest of the file.
Moreover, there is no hardware involved except for the users’ internet-connected devices, which is also multifunctional, unlike fax machines that are for one purpose only. As a result, there is less power consumed, fewer depreciating hardware going to landfills, and less plastic that takes forever to decompose.
With RingCentral Fax, businesses are not only getting an efficient and flexible online fax service, they are getting a tool for helping the environment too.