What is Cloud Faxing?
Cloud faxing is a tool that permits the users to send or receive faxes using the internet, instead of using a traditional fax machine and telephone line.
A facsimile or fax, otherwise known as telecopying, is the process of telephonically transmitting a scanned or printed document including both text and images. Usually, faxes are sent to a telephone number that is linked to a fax machine, printer, or any other similar output device. A fax machine scans a document at one end and transmits it over a telephone line to be printed at the other end. Its use started decades ago to securely send out documents from one place to another efficiently.
The cloud is anything that can be accessed over the internet. Storing something on the cloud means storing something on an online server instead of the physical computer hard drive.
Therefore, cloud faxing transmits data through the internet, without the need for any clunky machines. Using a cloud fax system, content can be sent from anywhere, from any internet-enabled device.
It requires special machines and phone lines from both the transmitting and receiving ends creating a slow, isolated, inefficient process. That’s why old-school fax machines can’t keep up with today’s fast-paced digital world. With the cost of running and maintaining the equipment, paper and ink refills, and analog lines, it can be unnecessarily expensive. Additionally, the world is trying to move to paperless documentation, because the use of excessive paper for scanning and printing directly affects the environment.
Web-based faxing helps you prevent wasted time, money, paper, and energy. Instead, the fax files are stored and transmitted through online servers, without the need for any special hardware, reducing upkeep needs. Cloud fax sends the document via the internet; storing it safely in the cloud until the correct recipient downloads and opens it.
More and more businesses are switching to a digital fax service, because it is faster, safer, more efficient, more reliable, and easier to use than the old method of faxing. It also enables paperless transmissions, helping organizations meet their environmental and corporate responsibility goals.
To send a fax online, the user needs to log in to the cloud service providing system, choose the recipient, and simply input in their fax number, email address, or any other cloud fax system. The content being faxed gets encrypted throughout its internet journey to the recipient’s server.
What is the Difference Between Email and Cloud Fax?
Someone unaware of the strengths and security measures of electronic faxing might think it’s similar to sending out an email. And there are definite similarities between the two. Both solutions require the user to log into their account and put in the recipient address to send out the message. However, when it comes to data security, many businesses prefer (or legally require) data to be transmitted through efax. Emails are editable, while a faxed document is in the form of a single image and cannot be altered. There are instances where businesses should opt for digital fax instead of over email to share important documents.
Businesses belonging to industries like finance, law, and healthcare use online faxing services to transfer confidential data as it is more secure than email. An emailed document goes through multiple servers before reaching the recipient, increasing the probability of it being compromised or intercepted. Web-based faxing solutions have strong encryption for every transmission, preventing any unauthorized access.
There are specific laws that different industries need to comply with. For example, privacy laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB Act or GLBA) are very important for the healthcare and finance sectors. Cloud fax services are generally compliant with these laws, unlike most email service providers.
When it comes to ensuring whether the document has been successfully delivered to the recipient or not, cloud fax is the clear winner. In the case of emails, there is no option to check whether they have reached the recipient or not until it bounces back. On the other hand, cloud faxes can be tracked in real-time through delivery reports. Also, it allows the user to download and print the transmission receipts. These transmission receipts can prove to be very useful for audit purposes where there is a need to provide proof for the exchange of documents.
Most email service providers give limited storage space to users, and if you need more you have to purchase it. However, cloud fax service providers generally offer unlimited storage facilities. This allows the user to keep their documents safe in the cloud without worrying about the file sizes. This can come in handy if you need to fax a large volume of documents.
There are 4 Ways of Cloud Faxing.
Most cloud fax service providers offer a variety of ways to send out faxes, such as email to fax, fax through a web portal, or print to fax.
1. Web portal
A document can be sent through the web portal of the cloud fax service provider. This means that any device with a web browser and internet connection can be used to send a fax. For this, the user needs to open the web portal of the service provider, select the recipient’s contact details, attach the fax document and send it.
2. Email to fax
To use this system, the user can log into their email and put the recipient’s fax number along with the service provider ID assigned to the recipient. The next step is to attach the document in any format such as PDF, PPT, DOC, or JPEG. The system will send the document after converting it into a suitable format for the fax machine, and a delivery confirmation email will be sent to the sender. However, this is possible only when both the recipient and user are using the same cloud fax system and are using the fax number assigned to them.
3. Print to fax
Some service providers allow users to send files the same way that a document is printed. The user needs to install a certain plugin, following which a print command can be given to any document and the fax option can be selected for it using the plugin. The next steps are similar where the fax number of the recipient is inputted and the fax is sent across.
4. Fax bridge
If the user has a physical fax machine, they can use a fax bridge to send out cloud faxes. A fax bridge is an analog telephone adapter (ATA) that connects the fax machine to the internet. This way, the fax can be sent using a tradition machine, but through the internet instead of the telephone line.
There Are 2 Types of Cloud Fax Services.
The user needs to choose the system best suited for their needs depending on the frequency of usage, its need to be integrated into the existing business systems, and other factors. Based on the type, they can be used by individuals or for home offices, small and medium-sized businesses, and large companies.
1. Basic cloud fax
The first level of cloud faxing is the basic service provided at a reasonable price. Usually, these services are available for pay-per-unit cost or at a monthly rate with a maximum number of faxes allowed each pay period. This allows users to send and receive faxes through email and can also offer additional services like a toll-free number for faxing. This service is best suited for home offices or small to medium-sized businesses that must send several faxes on a regular basis.
3. Enterprise cloud fax
For many companies, especially larger organizations, sending and receiving faxes is a part of their day-to-day work. These companies need better performance, high-level security, and solutions that seamlessly integrate with their existing systems. For such companies, enterprise cloud fax is the most suitable as it has advanced capabilities and can be easily integrated with the backend systems that need to use fax communications, such as financial applications and electronic record systems. Enterprise cloud fax systems offer robust security protocols and have advanced encryption systems and are usually compliant with various privacy laws to ensure that there are no penalties for a lack of security. Additionally, it has features like user permissions to ensure that only the appropriate parties can access the sent files.
What Features Should You Look For in a Cloud Fax System?
There are numerous online faxing systems available in the market, and choosing the right one for your business is essential. There are some key features to look for when it comes to selecting the right cloud fax service.
A good cloud fax service provider needs to have a geographically dispersed, robust cloud network. This means that they can offer business continuity, performance, and scalability backed by strict service level agreements (SLAs).
Performance and scalability
A few cloud service providers have a page limit, which can be a significant downside. A good cloud fax service provider should have the option to increase or decrease the volume of faxes based on the needs of the business. They should offer unlimited scalability while maintaining the performance to be best suited for a business.
For big businesses, continuous availability of cloud fax services is a must. The service provider needs to have a clear strategy for both business continuity and disaster recovery. Some service providers have a private cloud infrastructure that allows them full control over the availability and performance.
A good enterprise cloud system doesn’t just provide the option of document exchange, but it should go far beyond that. These systems need to have the ability to easily integrate with the existing systems of the company like accounts, customer relationship management systems (CRMs), and enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) to optimize the overall processes. It should be able to provide multiple application programming interface (API) tools, and native integrations as a part of its solution.
A company should look for a service provider for whom security is a priority. The service provider should offer encryption of documents, compliance certificates of various industries, and authentication mechanisms, to ensure that the information being shared is secure at all levels.
Predictability and transparency in the billing system is a must-needed feature for any business when it comes to cost management. One of the major things to look for when selecting a cloud fax service provider is the pricing model. There can be various models like pay-per-page, pay-per-user, or flat rates. Hidden costs like overage charges, set-up costs and long-term contracts also need to be considered. Choose the appropriate pricing model depending on your predicted usage of the cloud faxing system.
Ease of use
Businesses should look for a service provider with an intuitive web interface that offers integration with email systems and can be supported on mobile devices. This will make the use easier for the team.
Every industry has its own compliance requirements such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for data protection and HIPAA for healthcare. Businesses should ensure that the service provider they are choosing complies with these regulations. They should also provide:
- Audit trails of the faxed document’s entire life cycle, including tracking information like the details of sender and recipient, activity log, and timestamps. This ensures accountability and transparency.
- Data retention policies where they specify the exact period for data retention. This allows the businesses to meet not just their internal policies, but also regulatory and legal requirements.
- The service provider must have Secure transmission protocols like secure sockets layer (SSL) and transport layer security (TLS) encryptions. This helps in safeguarding sensitive information from interception or unauthorized access.
When employing a new system, customer support facilities are something that should always be considered. Some of the key factors that should be a part of the customer support feature include:
- Availability of customer support mediums like emails, live chats and phone calls. Businesses must ensure that the service provider offers support during their business hours so that the issues can be resolved promptly.
- Response time is another major factor to look for. Users should look for a service provider that has a quick turnaround time to ensure minimum disruptions and downtime.
- Good technical expertise of the customer support team should be considered as it can support efficient troubleshooting and provide guidance on integration and configuration.
- The service provider should be asked for the training material provided like user guides, comprehensive documents, and video tutorials, that can help the business understand the system better.
- The availability of onboard support, i.e., support for initial setup, is a must as it can help organizations implement the service smoothly.
While choosing the best cloud fax service provider, businesses must consider customer reviews to check its reliability and performance. Factors like time period, sample size, and reviewer credibility should also be considered. This will help provide insight into the usability of the service.
Benefits of Cloud Fax
There are many benefits of cloud faxing, but here are a few highlights.
Reduces unnecessary expenses
Using cloud fax service helps in reducing expenses like procurement of ink and paper, maintaining on-site machines, and upgrades. It also helps make data storage easier and affordable thanks to the unlimited data storage available on the cloud. The only expense that needs to be incurred is the subscription fee.
Ease of sending and receiving fax
A cloud fax service allows the user to send out faxes using emails. All that needs to be done is to log into the email account that is linked to the service provider, enter the recipient’s number and email and send the document. It also allows users to send and receive faxes through computers and mobile devices from anywhere, instead of through fax machines. It also allows the sender to fax documents to multiple recipients at once, saving time and energy. This also helps in increased collaboration among the teams.
Cloud Faxing Offers Maximum Security and Compliance
Cloud fax protects documents using multiple levels of security protocols, encryptions, and authentication, thus ensuring that they reach the right hands and cannot be intercepted. Most cloud fax service providers are compliant with the privacy laws of various industries as well, ensuring more security. Also, they provide an audit trail of the lifecycle of each, and every document faxed, right from timestamps to the sender’s and recipient’s details. Cloud fax is the most secure option available to ensure your business adheres to all relevant legislation and regulations. To prevent document manipulation and ensure complete privacy, the benefits of cloud faxing are unsurpassed.