Though many may believe that faxes are dying out, the truth is that they are evolving. Cloud faxing falls under many different names, including virtual faxing, online faxing and web faxing. More and more businesses are turning to cloud solutions for storage and communication, and faxing is no exception. According to a 2017 survey from the International Data Corporation (IDC), 90 percent of fax users have integrated or are evaluating the integration of fax with other technologies, like cloud usage. It’s become the new norm for faxing, which is still used by many businesses as a means of secure communication.
Cloud faxing is incredibly easy to use and often is no more complicated than sending an email. Due to its simplicity, reliability and cost-effectiveness, sending a fax over the internet is becoming more and more popular as a safe and efficient solution for a variety of business needs.
But what exactly does cloud faxing entail? What kinds of materials do you need, and how do you send an online fax in the first place? We’ll go over all of this and more so that you know how to send a fax over the web and what it’s all about.
What Is the Cloud?
The cloud means various things to different companies, and it is the foundation for many of them. Traditionally, when you need to access or store a file, you store it on a local server. This storage could be the hard drive in your computer or a network that business computers are linked up to. In either case, the connection is often hard-wired.
In the cloud, this is all stored elsewhere. Someone else manages and maintains the servers, which could be halfway across the world. Many businesses opt to outsource their storage solutions, and others, mainly large enterprises, will keep a data center for many locations. Then, when you need to access something, you start up a series of protocols over your internet connection to call up the files you need. Usually, on the user’s end, those protocols are as simple as clicking on a preview picture of the document you want. Think about using Google Docs and selecting an image to open it. Clicking on it pulls the file from storage in a server far, far away and displays it through your Internet connection.
Google Docs, Amazon Photos, Apple’s iCloud, e-mail and even Netflix are all examples of cloud-based services. They are typically straightforward to use, and the experience is almost no different for the user than if the data was on a local server. Not only does cloud computing free up space on local servers, but it also makes your information more accessible. Documents and photos are available from any device that has an Internet connection. This flexibility is part of the appeal of a cloud-based fax system — you can send or receive a fax from nearly any device at any time.
Why Fax Over the Cloud?
So what does the cloud mean for faxing? One of the primary reasons that businesses use fax is because faxing is a secure, legal method of communication perfect for sending and receiving sensitive documents. Cloud-based faxing is also cost-effective, as you don’t need to overburden IT personnel to take care of a server or worry about the up-front expense of the necessary hardware.
Cisco found that cloud data centers will process 94 percent of workloads and compute instances by 2021. The cloud’s compatibility and simplicity make it an excellent solution for many businesses. Some of the draws for enterprises include the fact that the system is easy to archive and scalable. Since faxes deliver as an image, documents are archivable, and you can access your history of deliveries through any internet connection. Cloud systems are also scalable, so if a company is growing, the cloud can quickly adopt new members. Adding new users is simple.
On a user level, faxing over the cloud is often preferable for several reasons. It is:
- Simple: An email-integrated fax system that is more accessible and easier to use was the most-cited reason for growth in fax usage, according to the IDC. The ease of use helps reduce the need for extensive training.
- Accessible: Not only does a cloud-based system streamline the process in an office, but it also allows for more accessibility. People working remotely often don’t have access to separate fax networks, so faxing over email makes it a viable option.
- Reliable: With cloud faxing, you can still get secure, reliable faxing without a cumbersome process or extensive costs. If you have the internet, you have faxes. This availability also allows you to get away from busy signals and connection issues. Softlinx, for example, has nearly 100 percent uptime, making faxing much less frustrating.
- Secure: There are different levels of security with cloud faxing, and sensitive documents need a dedicated method of secure transfer. Secure faxes are sent more safely, through encryption and a protected server that keeps your information safe, whether it is incoming or outgoing. This security means that you can send confidential records, test results, purchase orders and other sensitive documents with confidence. Your file itself is also protected from prying eyes. In a crowded office, it is easy for faxes to get lost or for passersby to see them accidentally. With cloud faxing, your document goes straight to its recipient, who sometimes needs to log in with a dedicated username and password.
- Trackable: Each fax gets tracking data that you can follow up on, and you can receive notifications when your documents are opened and delivered. This information makes it easy to keep an eye on important details.
- Archivable: Another bonus is that faxed documents are simple to archive since they typically save as an image file. When received, the fax server decodes these signals into something that you can read, usually an image file. What this means is that you can save the documents easily to your local network or in the cloud if you need to. All of your data is logged, and you can view your transmission history as well.
What Do You Need to Fax Over the Cloud?
Sending a fax over the cloud requires three things: a device with an internet connection, an email address and a cloud-based fax service.
Softlinx offers several access options. Email is the simplest one. When you register your email with our service, you can then send faxes from any mail client. From a web browser like Chrome or Firefox, you can access our ReplixFax application, where you can send and receive secure faxes. You can also download a desktop program or integrate our code into existing business applications. By integrating ReplixFax, you can streamline the process further, making it fast and straightforward to fax off a document securely.
If you need to send a printed document, you can use a multifunction printer that has fax over internet protocol (FoIP) capabilities to digitally fax it. Sending faxes between two FoIP machines is comparable to sending an email.
How to Send a Fax Online
Sending a fax online is a simple process and is often as easy as sending an email, but there are several different ways you can do it. Your data can range from scanned papers to Excel documents, and you can open them via a wide range of access options.
Before trying to send a fax via email, it’s important to remember that the link must be supporting TLS/SSL encryption to ensure the security of email-based fax job submission. Otherwise, the fax job transmission may not be secure or suitable for sensitive documents, such as patient records, payment information and other confidential data. With that said, email-to-fax is one of the fastest, easiest methods for faxing a document, and you can even send them from a mobile device.
If you’re sending a fax using an email-to-fax interface, you can attach native files such as the ones listed below if the cloud fax server is capable of converting attachment documents in native file formats.
- Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF)
- Microsoft Office Word (DOC, DOCX), PowerPoint (PPT, PPTX) and Excel (XLS, XLSX)
- Plain text (TXT)
- Tagged Image Format (TIF)
- Hypertext Markup Langauge (HTML)
- Rich Text Format (RTF)
- Postscript (PS)
- JPEG (JPG)
- Graphics Interchange Format (GIF)
- Bitmap (BMP)
The next step is to enter in the information of your recipient. The formatting may differ from service to service, but most are similar. With ReplixFax, you address a new email to (fax_number)@(org_id).rpxfax.com. (Fax number) is the fax number of the person you wish to send your fax to, and the (org_id) is your organization’s name. Then, attach the document you want to fax and hit send. The fax request is submitted to the cloud fax service, where it is translated into a format that the recipient’s system can read. Regardless of the method that your recipient uses to receive faxes, you can be sure that your document will reach them with this process.
You’ll typically receive an email notification when your fax is successfully delivered. If you want to check up on your fax, you may also search and view it using your web fax client application.
2. Print to Fax
Another way to fax is to install a Print2Fax driver. These drivers make the faxing process similar to printing a document. On a Windows PC, Print2Fax installs as an application and appears in the list of printers. When you’re ready to fax something, hit print and select the ReplixFax Print2Fax printer. This selection converts the document to a fax file and opens the application. From here, you can enter your recipient’s fax number, along with any cover pages, additional documents or scheduled delivery times.
In the Print2Fax application, you can check in on the fax status and review your delivery history as well.
3. Web Fax
From a web browser, you can securely log in to your ReplixFax web portal through www.rpxfax.com and navigate the interface. You’ll be prompted to upload your document, enter the recipient’s number and select your cover page. The web client also allows you to view your sent faxes and their statuses, along with a personal phonebook.
3. Broadcast/Mail-Merge Fax
If you need to send a fax to multiple recipients, a broadcast fax is the way to go. This feature is available through the ReplixFax web portal and can send a document to thousands of people at once. Under the “Broadcast” tab, upload your fax recipient file and the file you need to send. Once sent, you can view the statuses of the faxes and download an Excel file with the job details. ReplixFax Mail-Merge feature is also available for you to fax a customized document for each recipient to thousands of people at once.
4. Folder Fax for Outbound Faxing
A feature like folder faxing allows you to automate the process of faxing documents using a Fax Loader utility program. This program polls designated network folders and looks for fax parameters like a recipient number and fax documents to submit to the cloud service. You can configure this tool to work with a variety of options to automate outbound faxing with no manual intervention.
5. Delivering Inbound Faxes to Network Folders
ReplixFax enables you to get your inbound faxes delivered to network folders with the ReplixFax Delivery Manager utility. This program allows you to establish fax document delivery rules in a flexible way to create network folders and file names based on selected fax metadata.
6. Secure Faxing
Part of the reason faxing became so popular is because of its security, and online faxing doesn’t skimp on this feature. It’s also crucial for operations in industries like healthcare and finance, where you need to stay compliant. Softlinx offers a cloud fax service that is compliant with HIPAA and PCI DSS, uses encryption to protect your data and hosts your information in the cloud at a secure data center that are annually audited and publishes SOC 2 reports for security, reliability and compliance.
Secure faxing is simple and can be done through email, business applications via fax APIs, a web portal, a multi-function printer or a Windows desktop application. The submission to Softlinx is encrypted to keep your information safe. Both outgoing and inbound faxes are secure and encrypted. They can be delivered via the web portal, Windows applications, business applications through fax APIs and your email inbox. You can also receive secure faxes directly to your shared network folders, safely behind firewalls.
Partner with Softlinx for Reliable Online Faxing
Online faxing has grown in recent years — and for good reason. It is fast, efficient and simple, making it easy for any employee, whether they grew up in the digital age or have just purchased their first smartphone, to jump in right away. Users can send files from any internet-connected device and send a variety of data types with fewer reliability problems. Online faxing is also secure. Softlinx is entirely HIPAA compliant and boasts robust security protocols for all secure documents.
Moving faxes to the cloud has a wide variety of benefits for both businesses and their employees. We’ve worked with some of the biggest names in technology, like Dialogic, Microsoft, Dell, Cisco and IBM, to bring state-of-the-art secure fax solutions to businesses of all sizes. For more information on online faxing or assistance with Softlinx programs, please reach out today.