Ultimate Cloud Fax Buyers Guide: 7 Key Considerations When Choosing an Online Fax Service

What is Cloud Fax Anyway?

Cloud fax, also known as online fax, efax, or internet fax, is a service that allows users to send and receive faxes using the internet instead of traditional fax machines. With cloud fax, documents are transmitted digitally as email attachments or through web interfaces, eliminating the need for a physical fax machine, paper, and a dedicated phone line.

Users can send faxes from their computers, smartphones, or tablets by uploading digital documents (such as PDFs or image files) to the cloud fax service. The online fax service then converts these documents into a fax format and transmits them to the recipient's fax machine or email address.

Likewise, incoming faxes are received by the online fax service, which converts them into digital files (usually PDFs) and delivers them to the user's email inbox or an online account.

Cloud faxing offers several advantages over traditional faxing, but ultimately the compliance aspect of fax encryption and the ease of deployment of an online fax service make it the obvious choice for highly regulated environments. Just know that there are a variety of industry orientations:

  • Cloud fax for healthcare
  • Cloud fax for education
  • Cloud fax for government
  • Cloud fax for finance
  • Cloud fax for logistics
  • Cloud fax for manufacturing

These industries tend to value fax services due the need to send faxes securely, but there are many others that also have sensitive data and information to send and receive.

Not all online fax services are created equal

When starting your search it is important to know that the majority of cloud fax solutions are not actually in the cloud.  The majority of providers started in an old school on-premise environment (e.g. a physical fax machine) and have a very small portion of their customers in the cloud. 

This means the company has a bunch of legacy customers and tech debt for on-premise technology.  For you, that means very little innovation, investment and support for the service you're looking for.

Instead of getting the most innovative solution for your online faxing needs, you might be dealing with a company stuck supporting old tech. Why pay, in time, money, and convenience, because a company is still heavily based on selling and supporting fax machines?

Key question to ask: Are all your customers on cloud fax?

The seven key considerations and questions for finding the best online fax services

As a buyer of cloud fax, there are really seven key considerations when finding the right online fax service provider:

Security / compliance

Ease of Use

Integration 

Reliability

Scalable pricing

Customer Service

Roadmap beyond fax

Let's go through them in detail:

1. Secure and Compliant Cloud Fax is Critical

Ensure the solution adheres to industry standards for data encryption, transmission security, and complies with regulations like HIPAA, GDPR, or other relevant standards in your industry. Protection of sensitive information is paramount.

Key question to ask: Do you sign Business Associate Agreements (BAAs)?

2. Ease of Use:

An intuitive user interface and easy setup can significantly impact adoption of online fax services within your organization. The vast majority of cloud fax vendors built their user interfaces 20 years ago. The expected standards for user experience have come a long way.

Additionally, many of the implementations of online fax center around integrating to an API for functionality. That brings up our next consideration.   

Key question to ask: Can I trial the portal and API for your service?

3. Does the Cloud Fax Service have API, but more important, documentation? 

Cloud fax services typically fall into two buckets, retail or enterprise.  Many of the retail solutions are built for sending small amounts of faxes. The enterprise category will have an API. Be wary though, there are a number of legacy cloud fax solutions that will require you to work with their professional services team OR work through their sales team to even view API documentation.  Modern Cloud Fax providers will make accessing the API documentation easy and you should be able to test it out.   

Key question to ask: Is there a professional services cost to implement your API?

4. Reliability and Uptime

Check the provider's track record for uptime and reliability. If the vendor’s uptime data is not published publicly this is something to dig into. A reliable online fax service ensures that you can send and receive faxes without disruptions, which is crucial for business continuity.  

The reality is that fax has a built in failure rate and all providers have some level of failure.  The important thing is to find a cloud fax solution with a failure rate that is low on both deliverability and uptime and has customer service that can help troubleshoot when issues arise.

Key question to ask: Do you own your own fax network?  If not, who is the provider?

5. Scalability and Pricing

Consider your current faxing needs and how they might evolve over time. A scalable solution that can grow with your business will save you from the hassle of frequently changing providers. Also, examine the pricing structure to ensure it aligns with your usage patterns.

Key question to ask: What is my fully baked per page rate at (insert your forecasted volume)?

6. Support and Customer Service

Evaluate the support services provided by the vendor. Quick and responsive customer support is crucial, especially if you encounter technical issues or have questions about using the online fax service. Once you have implemented online fax, you will need a supportive partner to help diagnose issues with deliverability, porting of numbers, and features for future development.  

Key question to ask: Don’t ask a question here, trial their online fax service and, in doing so, submit a query to the support team to see what happens. Can you speak to a real person?

7. What is the roadmap beyond just cloud fax?

The majority of the health tech industry is caught in one of two places. The future or the past. As we have mentioned, the vast majority of cloud fax vendors are stuck in the past. 

However, there is so much innovative work being done in the health tech space with EMR’s, health data, AI/ML. Online fax services are particularly vital for the health tech space due to security and HIPAA compliance needs.

Finding the vendor that has the best online fax services for the present while pragmatically moving to the future will put you in the best position to use this vendor for your long term fax needs.

Key question to ask: If I have an innovative feature, will you consider it to be on the roadmap?

So who are the best cloud fax service providers?

The reality is that it depends on what you need. Every online fax service has a different set of offerings and caters to different clientele. The best way to look at the market is the major buckets that cloud fax providers fall into:

Legacy Enterprise:

Some of these solutions are on-premise (physical fax machines) and not online fax services. Some are cloud based. Either way they are very cumbersome to implement and support.

M&A Roll up:

These are cloud fax players that have been acquired by a single company. Typically these businesses are purchased for margin and all customer support is thrown out the window. Watch out for vendors with many fax products, but very little in the way of online fax services. This is a sign that there is limited investment in the service aspect and they just want to sell you products.  

Retail:

These are cloud fax solutions that are meant to send one or two faxes a month. Typically their pricing does not scale, they do not have an API or any enterprise features needed to run a large scale fax platform. If you need to send faxes online at scale, these online fax services are not for you.

Modern/API First:

These online fax solutions were built in the 21st century with modern API documentation and a good user experience. These are about more than using the product–they also focus on customer support to help in the implementation and ongoing maintenance of online fax services.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How can I demo a cloud fax API?

Many solutions do not allow you to demo or test their API. They require you to sit with a sales representative or solutions engineer to walk through the process.

However, the best solutions will give you their API documentation and support you along the way. In short, you need to speak to the companies and ask them questions about their fax services. 

If they can't give you the chance to demo the API on your own or if they don't have answers to the tough questions, are they really the best option for your business?

The cream will rise to the top.  

Do cloud fax providers allow for white labeling?

Some cloud fax solutions do provide white label solutions for their products. Others will not allow you to use your business' branding on their products, instead only providing their fax service with their company branding.

At Documo we offer a true, 100% branded white labeled fax solution. Contact our team and we can walk you through how it works. 

Does a cloud fax provider still work with a physical fax machine?

Yes, online fax services can integrate with existing, on-premise fax machines. You'll need to find a company that has the hardware, software, and expertise to bridge dedicated fax machines into their cloud fax service in order to connect these traditional fax machines to the internet to send faxes online.

Does Office 365 have a fax service?

No, Office 365 does not have an online fax service. However, many enterprise cloud fax solutions allow for a print-to-fax or email to solution that will quickly connect with Office 365.

Can Gmail send faxes?

No, Gmail does not natively allow you to send faxes online. However, services like mFax allow for an email-to-fax feature that will allow for compliant transmission of your online fax documents. For example, this is how a healthcare provider can send faxes that are in HIPAA compliance.  

What is the difference between analog fax and cloud fax?

Analog fax requires a user to interact with a physical piece of paper and a fax machine. Cloud fax digitizes the experience and allows you to send faxes from your email, phone, computer specifically through a web browser. 

This online fax service enables the same chain of custody and compliance that is typically required for faxing but simplifies the experience drastically. Using an online fax service eliminates the need for printing physical documents through a fax machine, which comes with scores of issues.

How do I find the best online fax service?

There are so many cloud fax solutions vendors on the market today it can be hard to know what the best online fax services are and how they can benefit your business. Going to G2, Capterra, a tech review site, to understand the landscape is a great start. 

mFax by Documo is the fastest-growing cloud fax solution on the market with significant investment into innovations that continue pushing this industry well beyond the physical fax machine.

Talk to our team to see how we can help your business with its online faxing needs.

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