Not long ago, the only way to receive a fax was through a fax machine. Millions of offices around the world depended on this device to transmit documents in a safe and reliable way.
For a time, these machines were indispensable in any company. But once the use of the Internet became massive, people began to use faster communication methods. However, fax is still alive, especially in industries where privacy and security is essential.
Luckily, we no longer have to rely on old technology. These days anyone can receive a fax online in a matter of seconds using their Gmail account.
Forget about paying for a dedicated fax line, now you can receive all your faxes through a Google fax number.
What is a Google Fax Number?
It's just a fancy name for an online fax number that delivers incoming fax to your Gmail account. This line lets you fax from your computer using Gmail interface.
There are only two things you’ll need to get your fax number:
- 1A Gmail address. You can create a Gmail account here if you don’t have one dedicated to fax online. Although you can use your current Gmail address, it’s better to use a new one to keep things tidy. An address goes hand in hand with a Google account, which means that you’ll be able to access complimentary products such as Google Drive and Google Calendars.
- 2An online fax service. A service acts as intermediary between incoming fax and your Gmail account and is a must-have item to be able to fax through Internet. They offer plenty of features that make your life easier if you fax often, but the one we care about the most in this article is the ability to get a free online fax number.
Fax service providers let you pick between a local, a toll-free or a vanity number. The choice is yours, just make sure that it fits your style of business (more about the different types of numbers below). If you want, you can also have your current fax number transferred to an online fax service and avoid having to update your contacts and marketing materials. In this case, the number needs to be ported and then propagated across the Internet. Contact your fax provider to learn how to get this set up.
For now the only way to get a virtual fax number is through an email fax service provider. "Free fax" websites are unable to give you a number for incoming faxes. But by using a service you are allowing faxes to be automatically received on Gmail, you don't have to concern yourself with lengthy installations or complicated fax hardware.
You can find different plans based on the amount of faxes you send/receive per month with affordable monthly fees (you can find providers costing as low as $4.99 a month). Services don't require a contract, which means that you can cancel your subscription at anytime if you wish to. Every plan includes a free virtual fax number, helping businesses make the switch without additional expenses.
Can I get a free Gmail fax number at zero cost? Yes, you can obtain your number in just a mtter of minutes by taking advantage of free trials. All free trial accounts are given a free number to fax for 30 days, as well as access to all the advanced features included in a basic plan. No charge is mafe to your account unless you keep using the service beyond the trial period. It's the perfect opportunity, not only to lern how online faxing works, but also to test out which service is best for your office.
Online Fax Services We Recommend
RingCentral Fax. This is one of the companies that provide better integration with Google in the market. They currently have local and toll-free numbers in the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom. Opening a free account with them is pretty easy, you just have to complete a few steps and after that you’ll have your active fax line. This service has pretty advanced features like cloud faxing and mobile integration, and you can use it in conjunction with RingCentral Office, their virtual office product suite.
eFax. It’s the online fax service with most presence in the World, right now you can find free eFax numbers in more than 40 countries and hundreds of cities. During the sign up process you choose a country and the number for Google fax. Faxes arrive with all the details of the transmission. eFax’s smartphone app is currently the best out there, and is free to use with an active account. If you value security and reliability, this is a great alternative.
How Virtual Fax Numbers Work
Your account is ready to receive faxes just minutes after you create it. Then, whenever you receive a transmission from a fax machine, the number will convert it to a TIFF file and then forwarded to powerful fax servers where the document will again be converted, but this time into a PDF file that you can read on your computer. After that, the PDF will be attached to an email and sent to your Gmail inbox. The whole process takes place in the background, you only have to open the fax attachments on your email. You have total control over what you print or download.
If you're in the US or Canada, you won't have to worry about finding a number given that all companies provide online fax numbers in these territories. For other countries you might want to look nto services like MyFax or eFax which have presence in dozens of countries around the Globe. When choosing a number, it's a good idea to keep in mind where are your customers located. For example, toll-free numbers can be reached by anyone in the USA without the need of an area code so it's perfect for business with nationwide presence.
Port Your Existing Fax Number
Do you have an existing fax number? Creating an account with a new number may be the quickest way to start faxing online, but that means that you would need to update all your business contacts and marketing materials!
Unless you only have a few contacts, it makes sense to keep using your current fax number. You can move it to a virtual line by asking your online fax service to port it.
This process, known as “number porting” will let you enjoy the perks of faxing online with your same number, by moving it to a virtual platform. This involves moving it to a fax server and then letting it propagate across Internet. Given the size of the Web, this may take a few days to be 100% complete.
Which Type Of Number Should You Choose?
TOLL-FREE Fax Numbers
These are numbers that you can call for free. They are usually easy to spot when they have the 1-800 prefixes, but there are other toll-free prefixes such as 844, 855, 866, 877 and 888. Toll-free fax numbers are preferred in industries where there is a lot of communication with customers, such as law, health and customer support. It makes it easier for customers and potential customers to reach you via fax.
LOCAL Fax Numbers
These are the “traditional” numbers you get when you request a new line. If you have a local business, having one these numbers can earn an extra degree of trust among potential customers. Most providers offer coverage across the U.S. and Canada. For international numbers you should check for local services or opt for an international fax service like eFax or MyFax, which have numbers in tens of countries around the World.
VANITY Fax Numbers
By using a vanity fax number, we can control how our number looks and what message it forms. These are instantly recognizable numbers, you may have seen some on TV that looked like this: 1-800-CALL-US-NOW. Vanity numbers are used by businesses that want to invest in branding, and it is also used a lot for marketing purposes. But since these numbers are not widely chosen for faxing, you need to request one from your service’s representative, and they will cost you an extra fee.
Forget About Paying for a Landline
Fax machines are not only slow and outdated, they also consume a lot of energy. Most offices need to keep it turned on even when they are closed to avoid missing important documents. But here are other reasons you should make the jump to Internet fax:
- It is a MAJOR time and money-saver.
- Lets you send and receive faxes without leaving Gmail.
- Lets you send and receive faxes on your cell phone
- It's easily integrated with cloud storage services, including Google Drive.
- There's no need pf physical line installations.
- They give you an online fax number for FREE.
Getting an online fax number is a surefire way to speed up the delivery of faxes and reduce the amount of paper consumption on your office. It shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes to create a free account and start receiving faxes online.
Even if you are away from your computer you'll still be able to receive fax through your number. Either with the use of Gmail for mobile or by downloading a smartphone fax app.
Virtual lines are much more affordable than physical lines and unlike them, they are ready to be used immediately without any additional equipment.