It goes without saying that in today’s computer controlled world, the Internet or online faxing have become very popular with all segments of the population. Despite this popularity, many individuals and business owners still do not fully understand how online faxing actually works. You often hear this question:

What is an email to fax gateway?

In other words, how do I use my current email system to send a fax to a traditional fax machine? What program or fax gateway do I use? While any computer with a fax modem can send a fax, most people and businesses these days turn to online fax service providers to handle all of their faxes.

Your online provider can take your email message and send it to a fax or machine number. This is what really confuses some people, how can I turn my email message into a fax? The answer lies in our original question: These online providers are actually “email-to-fax gateways” that can process your email message and route it to a traditional fax machine or send it to another email address. Your message or fax is sent as an email attachment; most of the time your message / fax is in a PDF or Tiff file.

Your email-to-fax gateway is really this online fax provider that acts on your behalf to handle and process all of your faxes or messages.

Once you sign up with your chosen provider, you will be given a local or toll free fax number that you can send to all of your contacts. If you have a well-established business fax number and you don’t want to lose this vital connection with your customers, many online fax services will allow you to “port” your current number to their services. Although there is generally a small fee associated with this transfer.

Now, once you have chosen a provider, you will also be given an online account or interface, where you can log in to review your messages. Think of this as an email account with the added ability to send faxes. Like an email account, you can check your messages / faxes anywhere and anytime as long as you are connected to the web.

In fact, these “email-to-fax gateway” services are actually a simple form of “cloud computing” where you have outsourced faxing to a remote third-party host or server. Just as we have now turned to the web and computers to send our mail, we can do the same with our faxes using one of these online providers.

However, unlike many email accounts that are free, purchasing a fax or provider account will cost you between $ 8 and $ 10 per month. Although there are many cheaper services available, it is worth comparing prices. Additionally, there are some “pay-as-you-go” services that can be very profitable if your faxing requirements are very low.

Now each provider or gateway will have slightly different terms and rates. So you need to check how many faxes you can send each month, both inbound and outbound? You should also check what the “overage” charge will be, should it exceed your monthly limit? You should also check the international rates because sometimes providers will charge more to send these messages.

Other things worth checking, how many email addresses can you connect with your fax number? This is important if you want all your company messages to go to different workers or departments. How long will your faxes be stored online? What are the support hours and support number in case something goes wrong?

Regardless of additional terms and conditions, most modern businesses now have at least one fax number online. This gives both employees and customers the means to reach the company anytime, anywhere. Additionally, these services are paperless and much cheaper than traditional services because you don’t need to install or maintain a dedicated fax phone line, or even a fax machine.

In general, opting for an “email-to-fax gateway” service will fully integrate all of your communications with your computers and the web. This may be a very smart business move on your part, but like all business decisions, is it your decision?

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