Online fax services let you fax over your Internet connection without having to rely on a fax machine.  In the past decade, they have become an important part of businesses that need to share sensitive documents on a daily basis.  Instead of using a physical landline, these web-based services give you a virtual fax number which is capable of fax transmissions over a digital medium, while ensuring your documents are still received by legacy fax machines.

They work using FOIP technology, which means Fax Over Internet Protocol.  Virtual lines using FOIP are meant to be used exclusively for faxing to ensure a clear transfer of the information. They convert analog fax into a digital file and vice-versa. You can send different types of files, and incoming fax will be converted to a PDF document before being forwarded to your email.

But faxing is no longer bound to the limitations of an analog fax machine. An online fax service can help you do more than just send and receive documents.  Let’s take a look at the features you didn’t know you could enjoy.

Schedule a Fax

Sending a fax at a specific time and date used to be an event. If you didn’t have a secretary to help you with the delivery of faxes, you needed to be on time at the office and in some cases stay during closing hours. This could end up taking a big chunk of your time during the month.

Digital fax services let you schedule fax in just a few seconds.  Just log into your online fax account and go to the SEND section. After filling out the details of your fax and uploading your file, click on SCHEDULE and pick the time and date from the pop-up calendar.

You can schedule an unlimited number of fax messages.  Once your fax has been sent, you will receive a confirmation message on your email containing all the details from the call, including the time/date of the transmission, how long it took to complete, and the recipient information.  If the service finds a busy line, it will automatically retry to send the fax several times until it is successful.

Send, Receive and Sign Faxes from your Phone

Services are always evolving. In the past few years, many of the top online fax providers have started releasing apps that can turn your smartphone into a portable fax machine. Although when they first came out, these apps had their share of bugs, nowadays, you can find great apps that can send, receive, and even sign faxes on the go.

If the document you wish to send is physical, you can simply take a snapshot with your cell phone.  This will act as the “scanner,” the app will then automatically adjust the image, ensuring it’s 100% readable and has the right amount of contrast when printed on a common fax machine.

Fax Documents from Cloud Storage Services

Remote collaboration tools have become very important, providing a way for teams to work in different locations.  For this purpose, companies have resorted to cloud storage and sharing services such as Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox.

Some of the leading online fax providers offer integration with these cloud platforms, helping you pull a document from “the cloud” in order to convert it to fax.  You no longer have to download a file to your hard drive or memory card, and you can save all your documents in the cloud storage space to share it with other members of your team.

Choose your Fax Number

One of the main benefits of using an online fax company is that you get to pick which type of number you will be using with your virtual fax line.  New accounts can pick between a local and a toll-free number (with different prefixes). Still, if you already have a physical line, you can move it to a digital medium at no extra cost through a process known as fax number porting; this usually takes a couple of days to complete.  In the meantime, the service will give you a free temporary fax number to keep you from missing faxes.

Once you’ve picked your fax number, it is ready to be used immediately.  You can test it right away by sending test fax.

Fax Broadcasting

Have you ever wanted to send singular fax to multiple numbers at the same time? Back when fax machines were the only option, you had to seek the help of a special broadcasting service, which charged you a fee depending on the number of recipients you wished to reach.

Doing it online is much simpler, and we don’t need to spend money on a solution.  You can add up to 200 recipients to receive the same fax, and it takes only a couple of minutes.  One way to do this is by checking your recipients in your fax address book; another one is by sending your fax as an email.  Just like common emails, simply separate each fax number (formatted like this: faxnumber@faxservice.com) with a comma, attach the file you want to fax and click send.

The ability to broadcast fax is very important for public relations agencies and marketing purposes.

Add a Digital Signature to Incoming Faxes

Do you need to sign a contract, business proposal, or a similar document?  Forget about having to print a hardcopy of the document; you can just sign your faxes digitally in one step.

The first thing you need to do is create a digitized version of your signature.  You can do it by scanning it, but we find it simpler to just use a digital pen or create your signature on your phone. Once you save it, it will remain available for all future faxes, so next time you need to add a signature, you just click on the option on your fax member’s dashboard then position the signature on the part of the page you want it to be.  An easier way is to just use your phone’s app to sign and fax back a document, but not all services have this option.