You may have thought (completely understandable) that faxing was a thing of the past. After all, business communications have changed a great deal since fax machines were the main way of sending documents to clients and colleagues. In fact, you’d be completely wrong. Faxing over the internet remains an easy, cost-effective way of dispatching important documents swiftly, securely, and safely.
No longer do you need a cumbersome fax machine to take advantage of faxing. In fact, RingCentral’s mobile and desktop apps allow you to fax documents with minimum hassle.
Perhaps, you’re looking to close an all-important deal with a new client, and you need to send the relevant documents without delay. With RingCentral’s internet fax service, all you need is a working internet connection—a landline is no longer necessary.
In this short guide, we’ll provide you with a quick and concise introduction to online faxing and how it works compared to traditional fax machines. Here are the questions and topics we’ll cover:
- Can I send a fax over the internet?
- What exactly is internet faxing?
- How a traditional fax machine works
- How online faxing works
- How can I send a fax over the internet for free?
- The benefits of faxing over the internet
Let’s get started.
There are numerous reasons why you might want to send a fax over the internet instead of emailing. Perhaps the most important, however, is security. Unlike emails, faxes are much more protected. This makes them much more secure and keeps your data private, especially compared to emails, which can be used for scams like phishing and ransomware.
Another point to bear in mind here is that faxes can be legally binding documents in a court of law. Not only is the document itself secure, so too are online fax servers. More and more courts are accepting digital evidence like PDF files, while emails are more vulnerable to fraudulent activity—they are harder to authenticate and therefore are only rarely admissible in court as evidence.
With remote working on the rise, we’re all getting used to the idea of working from anywhere, and being able to work together, from anywhere, is of the utmost importance.
So, what happens if you work in an industry that still uses fax, like insurance or healthcare, but you don’t have a physical fax machine in your home or office? You send fax messages via the internet, of course—no printing required.
See how True Blue Insurance made it possible for their almost 100-person team to work remotely from anywhere—while providing their clients with lightning-fast service through online faxing.
You can indeed send faxes over the internet! Online faxing is simple and convenient. It’s the unsung hero of online communication. While other methods such as emailing and instant messaging get more attention, fax over internet services are proving to be enduringly popular with clients.
It’s easy to send and receive faxes online. RingCentral makes it especially simple. It offers features like:
- Sending faxes to a chosen recipient’s fax number
- Assigning your own fax number that others can use to fax documents to you
- Using your existing phone number, or a local or toll-free number to receive faxes
We’ll elaborate on all this in a subsequent section.
Internet faxing is, as the name suggests, the process of sending and receiving faxes online. The days when you had to hunch over an enormous fax machine are, thankfully, well and truly over. These days, you can send faxes from a variety of devices, including:
- Your computer (desktop or laptop)
- Smartphone (iPhone or android)
Online fax services use internet gateways to connect with fax machines. Where fax machines used to only be able to be reached and to send documents via telephone lines, they’re now accessible from online.
In short, internet gateways are nodes in a network. They’re key stopping points for data, enabling users to send information by email or through third-party software and for it to be received by a fax machine, or vice versa.
These gateways both accept documents over the internet and then transmit them directly to the appropriate fax machine. This allows you to send a fax online from wherever you happen to be—no clunky old fax machine required—in complete confidence.
The plans and pricing will depend on the service you choose (something we’ll soon discuss). For now, here’s how you can go about choosing a fax service that’s right for your needs and your finances:
- Set a budget. What sort of fees can you afford?
- Explore the faxing services on the market, and compare features and costs.
- Look for added benefits. Does your chosen service offer fax by email? Can you attach documents from services like Dropbox and Microsoft Office?
- Check out customer testimonials. What have previous customers had to say about individual fax services? How does it compare to traditional faxing?
🕹️ Get a hands-on look at how RingCentral is designed to let you send faxes over the internet easily. Book a product tour to check it out:
💰 You can also use this calculator to see roughly how much your business could save by using RingCentral to support your team’s communication with each other—and clients.
Traditional fax machines work by sending facsimiles (aka copies or fax for short, hence the name) of documents via phone lines. They scan documents through the use of a charged-coupled device, which effectively looks at each line of a given document, detects black areas and white areas, and then sends a reproduction of what it finds down the phone line via an electric pulse. The physical fax machine at the other end receives these pulses and then directs them to a printer.
It’s only when you look at the process of sending a traditional fax that you realize just how cumbersome it is. Here’s a quick step-by-step overview:
- A person types up a document.
- They then print out a physical copy.
- Then, they scan it into the fax machine and press the send button.
- The document is sent using a traditional fax machine.
- An incoming fax is received and printed out at the other end.
- The recipient may then scan this copy to create a digital file (whether as a Word document, PDF file, or an image like a PNG). This is likely to be considerably inferior quality to the original document.
It’s not hard to see, therefore, why so many people are looking to other methods of sending documents—including online faxing—as a simpler and more convenient alternative.
With RingCentral, sending a fax online is as easy as sending an email. Here’s how:
- Select the “New fax” option in the RingCentral desktop or mobile app.
- Enter the recipient’s fax number and add the relevant message text.
- Attach the appropriate documents from Box, Dropbox, Google Drive (including Google Docs) or Microsoft Office.
- Alternatively, you can send faxes via email by addressing them to the appropriate fax number @rcfax.com.
Here’s a run-through of how to send and receive faxes with RingCentral:
We’ve already discussed online fax services, which offer a range of features for monthly fees. There are, however, free fax alternatives. For example, you can use Microsoft’s Fax and Scan application, which comes free with Windows (up to and including Windows 10), which is free of charge. You’ll need the following hardware and accessories to use it:
- A computer equipped with Fax and Scan
- A landline (it doesn’t work with VoIP)
- An internal or external fax modem
- A cord connecting the model to a phone line
However, there is a downside here. Because Fax and Scan needs to be connected to a phone line via a fax modem, this means that your landline would be tied up while you’re sending and receiving faxes, which is obviously an inconvenience. You also can’t use a mobile device. As we’ve discussed, fax services use gateways to avoid this problem. In addition, your computer will need to be switched on the whole time while faxes are being sent or received.
🔍 Are you thinking about getting a new communication tool and unsure how to get started? Here’s a checklist to help you pick the right one for your business.
There are, then, numerous benefits to online faxing. These include the following:
- Sending and receiving faxes from anywhere and at any time. This is particularly useful for businesses operating from multiple sites and for those making the transition to remote working.
- Lower costs. When you subscribe to RingCentral, you can send faxes without having to worry about the expense of buying toner and fax machines. You also don’t need to worry about maintaining them (there is, after all, a lot that can go wrong).
- Reliable security. Sending faxes via phone line isn’t as secure as you might think: documents can easily be intercepted by prying eyes. With RingCentral, your faxes are transmitted securely over an encrypted internet connection.
- Sending and receiving faxes without tying up your phone line. As we’ve noted, using ordinary phone lines for faxing can block inbound calls as well as leaving you unable to make outgoing calls. With RingCentral, everything is done through your internet connection, leaving your phone line free.
Ready to send online faxes in seconds?
As we’ve sought to explain here, there are many advantages to using online faxes over email. Businesses in particular stand to benefit. Not only does online fax ensure enhanced security, it also delivers a raft of further benefits.
Those include saving you time and money, allowing you to sign documents electronically, keeping your documents organized, and enabling you to send faxes from mobile devices.
RingCentral’s always-on internet fax service is easy to use, and it won’t bust your budget. It allows you to manage your outgoing and incoming faxes online, sparing you unnecessary expense and generally making your working life that bit easier. Your business, and its clients, could reap substantial rewards for this over the long run.
Originally published Dec 11, 2020, updated Feb 25, 2021