Online Faxing: Part of the Movement toward Cloud Computing
Since the advent of online faxing, a number of companies have come forward to provide e-fax services. These services are part of a larger trend towards “cloud computing,” a term that describes Internet-based, rather than equipment-based, office work. From the access point of your computer, smart phone, or other device, you access files and services from anywhere, anytime. Online fax companies are on the cutting edge of this trend, and choosing one of them puts you there, too. Voice over IP and fax technologies meld nicely. Click here to read more.
The model for cloud computing, as opposed to equipment-based office models, is the subscription. Instead of investing in equipment and supplies, consumers pay a monthly fee, which is very low since the provider does not have to maintain a utility grid like the phone or electric companies. Thus online fax providers can give you a lot of “bang for the buck,” providing a suite of services for a very low monthly fee.
Click here for more detail on changing from traditional fax to online fax.
Measure Your Faxing Frequency
Your first task is to figure out is how many faxes you plan to send and receive. Three hundred pages combined (both send and received) per month is the industry average, but companies can range significantly higher or lower in their offerings.
Three hundred sounds like a fairly large number, but consider this example: real estate is one industry that still uses fax for nearly every transaction, as signed contracts are fundamental in doing real estate business. And it’s well-known that such contracts can be a dozen pages long, if not more. At twelve pages each, that’s only 25 documents that you can send or receive every month. A busy office might send or receive that many contracts in a week or less.
If you don’t get yourself enough pages, your company will charge you for the extra pages you send—$.10 per page is fairly standard, but that small fee can add up very quickly. In other words: don’t be taken in by numbers that look big enough. Evaluate the needs of your business and then choose the right plan for you. Even if your needs run to thousands of pages per month, there is a plan suited for you.
Effectively Manage Your File Storage
Besides saving on the actual equipment for sending your faxes, online providers will also address another dilemma for you: storage. The ability to store your faxes online and access them from anywhere is a huge business benefit of online faxing. After deciding how many faxes you send every month, deciding how much data you must keep accessible, along with how long you need to access it, is your next priority.
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As is the case with pages allowed, storage options range widely, from unlimited quantity and time to only thirty days’ worth of storage before the company begins charging you “rent” for the space or deleting your files. And, as with the pages above, you can quickly run into hidden storage costs if you don’t stay organized and keep track of how much you’re storing, and for how long.
Consider Other Important Factors
Once you understand these two factors, you can begin evaluating other, less vital features. These include:
• Your phone number: Would you prefer a toll-free or local fax number?
• How many users can send and receive faxes: If you need to have multiple people using the online fax account, some companies provide a better mechanism for doing so than others.
• Customer assistance: Most of the large online fax companies offer some form of customer support, from 24/7 call centers to live chats with help desk personnel. Be sure to check the times of operation, as some only have availability during business hours.
• Price: Of course, this is a primary consideration, but as online faxing isn’t terribly expensive anyway, you should make sure that you’re getting the services that you or your business need. After all, saving $3 to $5 per month doesn’t mean anything if your service isn’t doing what it needs to do for you.
• Technical differences: Some services let you send faxes from within Microsoft Word or Outlook; others offer different levels of protection for your data when you send it.
• Other bells and whistles: Vanity fax numbers, scheduling times for automated fax deliveries, forwarding faxes to other numbers—these are just a few of the other minor features that these companies offer. You can probably do without any of them, but they are certainly good to have and add value (and convenience) to your plan.
Why Fax at All?