Written by Jason Fitzpatrick
Despite the overall decrease in the popularity of fax machines, faxing is still a common practice in many industries. Here’s a look at five of the most popular services for sending and receiving faxes from a computer—without the clunky hardware.
Photo by mattjiggins.
Even though we’ve all got email and cheap scanners, faxing remains deeply embedded in the workflow of many industries, such as banks and government institutions. The following services can help you manage your virtual fax needs whether you’re a once-a-year, once-a-month, or a daily fax user.
FaxZero (Web-Based; Basic: Free; Premium: $1.99 per fax)
FaxZero offers a great service for infrequent fax users who only need to send out faxes, not receive them. You can send a fax for free anywhere in the United States. In exchange for the free service, FaxZero places an ad on the cover page and limits you to three pages and two transmissions a day. Still, it’s free, and for those last minute “We only accept fax!” emergencies, it can get you through. If an ad feels too unprofessional, you can send a premium fax with a max of 15 pages and no ads for $1.99. If you’re a light user, it would take a lot of $1.99 faxes to add up to even one month of premium service at most of the other fax service providers. FaxZero’s shortcoming, of course, is that you can’t receive faxes in return.
eFax (Web-Based/Email, Basic: Free; Plus: $16.95/month; Pro: $19.95/month)
eFax has two paid tiers of service plus a free service—scarcely mentioned on their web site. Their free service gives you a virtual fax number and allows you to receive up to 10 pages a month, but you can’t send out faxes. Since most people usually get stuck working with a company that insists you send them faxes, the pay-services are of most interest. The Plus service allows you to receive up to 130 pages per month and send 30 (overages are $0.15/page and $0.10/page, respectively). Pro service allows you to receive 200 pages per month and no free pages sent (overages and sent pages are $0.10/page). The Pro service also includes 200 minutes of voicemail-to-email service. You can choose between a local number or a toll-free number, but all incoming pages through the toll-free number are billed at $0.20 (regardless of whether or not you have free incoming pages on your account).
MaxEmail (Web-Based/Email; Lite: $2/month; Basic: $9.95/month; Premium: $39.95/month)
MaxEmail has several tiers of service. The most basic service is their ultra-light package, which runs $2 a month (it’s actually a $24 fee for the year, but we converted it to monthly for comparison’s sake), includes 100 incoming fax pages per month, no free outgoing (billed at $0.05-0.10 per page), and a unique fax number. Upgrading to the $9.95 per month Plus account gives you the ability to pick what area code your fax number will be in, increases your number of incoming pages to 250, and adds in 100 pages of free outgoing faxes. Upgrading to the Corporate account adds in additional features like increased incoming faxes and multiple users on the account.
MyFax (Web-Based/Email; Basic: $10/month)
MyFax is a feature-rich fax service. You can select from a local or toll free number for your incoming fax “line”, your sent and received faxes are archived for a year, and you can fax to 41 countries with no additional charge. You can fax via email or directly from Microsoft Office applications with the MyFax plugin. MyFax also includes scheduled delivery, delivery confirmation, and support for faxing of 178 document types, including popular formats like PDF, Office documents, and more. Accounts start at $10 (100 pages sent/200 received) and rise in price according to the volume you need.
K7.net (Web-Based/Email; Free)
In contrast to FaxZero, which only sends faxes (for free), K7 is a completely free (ad-supported) service for receiving fax and voicemail. When you sign up for an account, you’re given a Seattle-area number (where K7 is based), unless you pay $2 a month for an 800 number. K7 turns all faxes and voicemails into email attachments and forwards them on to you. If you’re not a fax power user, combining K7’s services with FaxZero’s services would give you a free and decent arrangement for the occasional faxes you need to send and receive.
Great article as you did an excellent job in comparing some of the email fax providers out there. Another online fax provider worth mentioning is http://www.FaxitFast.com. Their service offers great value and makes it easy for me to send and receive faxes directly from my Blackberry. Plus it’s less than $6/mo for 250 monthly faxes… not a bad value when compared to alternatives.