with internet faxWith nearly everything going online these days, it’s no surprise that traditional ways of doing things are being replaced with easier methods that involve the Internet and a computer, smartphone or other Internet-enabled device. The fax machine is no exception to this trend of replacing the old with the new in the rise of the Internet of things. While you may have heard of Internet fax, and even read about the benefits it holds over traditional fax, you might still be confused as to how it works exactly. To help ease the confusion, we’ve detailed how you can send and receive faxes with Internet fax services.

Sending a fax

When you sign up for an Internet fax service, you’ll be given an online account with an easy-to-use web interface for sending and receiving faxes. The tool for sending a fax is very similar to drafting a new email and it will prompt you to add the necessary information for the fax you’d like to send, such as the recipient’s name, fax number, subject line, cover letter and any attachments. You can add multiple recipients to each fax, where the number of recipients varies by the provider you select. MetroFax, for example, allows you to add up to 50 recipients per fax, whereas services like GoDaddy limit you to up to five per fax. The types of files you can include as attachments also vary by the provider you select, but most support formats such as PDF, JPG, HTML and Microsoft Word files.

The other option that’s provided by some services is the option to send a fax using your email address. If you choose to send a fax this way, you will enter the receiver’s fax number in the “to” field of your new email and add the provider’s name afterwards. For example, if you’re using RapidFax, your “to” field would look something like 4155551234@rapidfax.com. It’s important to note that the email you’re sending a fax from must be the email associated with your Internet fax account — sending an email this way will still show the recipient your fax number, not your email address, as the sender.

Receiving a fax

Like sending a fax with an Internet fax service, you can also receive a fax one of two ways. If the provider you’ve signed up with allows the option for faxing via email, you can select whether or not you’d like to receive faxes in your email inbox as well as your online account with that particular provider (the other way to receive faxes). With the former, you can either choose to give someone your email address or the fax number you were given when you signed up. No matter which provider you choose to go with, all of these services give you the option to select what area code (within the United States) you’d like for your fax number. Then, you are given a list of available numbers you can choose from for your designated fax number. There are even some services, like Netiva vFax and RingCentral, which allow you to add a toll-free number to your account for no additional charge.

With most of these services, sending a fax takes little but longer than receiving one, but most of the time, the wait times are pretty consistent with faxes sent and received using a traditional fax machine. Sending a fax via Internet can range from about 20 seconds up to five minutes, and receiving a fax takes approximately 20 seconds to about one minute and a half. Your Internet connection speed can also have an effect on your send/receive time, so that’s an important factor to take into consideration as well.

Interested in using one of these services? Check out our list of Internet fax services you can use for free. And if these providers don’t meet your monthly faxing needs, check out our Internet fax reviews for other top-rated options.