Saturday, June 04, 2005

Receive and Send Faxes Online

Internet fax services are replacing the traditional fax machine for both sending and receiving fax messages. No fax machine? So what takes the place of the photodiode scanner and thermal or ink cartridge printer? Is this the same as fax software?

No, not fax software. This is an Internet based application that uses your email client or web browser. Fax software was an earlier attempt to do the same thing. That is, let you send and receive faxes without having a separate stand-alone fax machine. The software runs on your PC and monitors the telephone line for fax tones or grabs the line to send a fax. That can be a problem when you are on broadband and nowhere near a phone line or using your only phone line for Internet access.

The new generation of Internet faxing does away with the phone line, at least on your end. The other party might have a fax machine or fax software, or they might also be using an Internet fax service. Here's how it works.

To send a fax, you compose your fax message using whatever text editor or word processing program you have on your computer and then attach it to an email message. You send the email to the phone number of the intended recipient at the Internet fax service provider. The provider's system converts your attachment to the fax format and then sends it out as audible tones over a phone line to the number you specified. In essence, the system emulates a real fax machine.

Another option is to use a form on the Internet fax service's website to compose and send your message. The receiving party won't know how you created your fax message. It could have come via machine, software, email or web based fax.

To receive a fax, you tell the sending party the phone number that the Internet fax service has assigned to you. They send the fax on their machine to that number. The service provider then converts that incoming fax to an image file and attaches it to an email that is sent to you. You open the attachment and read the fax message on your computer screen. You can then print it off if you want a hard copy, but I'll bet you won't opt for that awful thermal paper that fades with age.

The ability to send and receive faxes online frees you from being tied to a phone line or a fixed location fax machine. Even the small machines aren't all that portable for business trips and there's no phone jack at the coffee shop. It's much easier to pick up your emailed faxes while sipping a latte at your favorite WiFi hotspot. On business trips, you aren't stuck waiting at the hotel for a fax to arrive on their machine. Your incoming faxes will find you the next time you check your email.

Since computers are used to generate most of the faxes, it makes sense to eliminate the paper step and make use of the versatility of Internet transmission for the majority of your fax communication needs.

Find out how to get a fax number that sends and receives faxes using your current email address. Try eFax free – instant activation.

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