Best online fax services 2019: Say goodbye to paper jams

Online Faxes - a pile of paper faxes
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Paper fax machines are a nightmare for office staff to use. There is nothing worse than feeding through a 100 page medical document to a personal injury firm and having it jam half way through or receiving a report that it has only sent 95 pages. The best online fax services will help you avoid wrestling with the fax by sending all your paperwork electronically. This not only makes your office more efficient but can also help save a small forest's worth of paper.

If you want to avoid the hassle of missing pages, paper jams and changing a toner, electronic fax services are the best option. We've reviewed the top fax services online to break down the features these programs have, how easy it is to use these services and the impact it will have on your business. Converting to an online fax system will not only make your company look more efficient and organized but save you the cost of paper, toner and machine maintenance. 

We spent 20 hours testing online fax services by evaluating the available features, talking to customer support teams and testing the ease of use for the mobile and web apps. We recommend MetroFax as the best overall service, because the web and mobile apps are intuitive and the monthly cost is affordable. We also identified the best service for securely sending personal healthcare information, the best free online fax service and the best service for multiple users to help you find the right service to match your specific needs. 

1. Metrofax: Best overall 

MetroFax - best online faxes

MetroFax

A great online fax service that offers a fast and efficient fax service even from mobiles

Reasons to Buy
Affordable
Easy-to-use mobile app
Great cloud service integration
Reasons to Avoid
Not compatible with analog fax machines
No HIPAA encryption compliance

MetroFax is an affordable online fax service with an intuitive workflow and a great selection of cloud-office system support options. The Essential plan starts at $7.95 per month with discounts for paying annually instead of monthly. There are three price tiers that add more pages per month, but if you exceed your allotment of 500 sent or received faxes, additional pages cost three cents each. Unlike other communication services we evaluated with phone and storage offerings, including RingCentral, MetroFax only handles online faxes, which makes the interface easier to navigate.

The user-friendly mobile app allows you to upload files saved on your phone or from cloud services, like Dropbox, Google Drive and Box, to send across MetroFax’s secure and reliable network. There’s a 30-day trial available for all plans and no activation or early termination fees. All plans allow you to add up to five email addresses for each fax number and to send faxes to multiple recipients simultaneously. The online portal has a great selection of customizable features, including text and email confirmation that your fax has been sent and received. This online fax service isn’t compatible with analog fax machines, but you can transfer your existing number or choose a local or toll-free number.

2. RingCentral: Best for multiple users 

RingCentral - Best online fax service

RingCentral

A great online fax service for sending faxes out to multiple users

Reasons to Buy
Outbound scheduling
Unlimited plan
HIPAA compliant
Reasons to Avoid
Expensive
Cluttered interface

The lower feature tier from RingCentral is a bit more expensive than other basic services we evaluated, but the Fax Unlimited plan is a great option for small businesses with multiple users. For $39.99 per month, the Unlimited plan allows you to send and receive as many faxes as you need to in the U.S. and Canada. That plan also comes with two shared fax numbers with the option to add more lines for $4.99 per month.

This service allows administrators to grant access to multiple users while still retaining administrative control over the account. This is also the only online fax service we evaluated with vanity fax numbers. There’s a $30, one-time fee for vanity and toll-free numbers, and you can get your business name to display online or on analog fax machines. The RingCentral web portal allows you to block faxes from senders without caller ID.

Because the fax service is just one component of its services, the user interface for RingCentral’s web app and mobile app are cluttered compared to fax-only services. But RingCentral is compatible with popular cloud storage services like Google Drive, Box and Dropbox and seamlessly integrates with Windows applications and Microsoft Office. Outgoing faxes are sent through a HIPAA-compliant secure network, and incoming faxes are stored in your password-protected online account.

3. SRFax: Best for healthcare information

SRFax - Best online fax service

SRFax

A great online fax system with great encryption for sensitive documents

Reasons to Buy
Specific healthcare plans
Enhanced security and encryption features
Unlimited outbound users
Reasons to Avoid
No mobile app
Unattractive interface
Canadian terms of service could be a potential issue for some businesses

SRFax offers specific plans for offices that send healthcare information, and it comes with enhanced encryption and security features.

All the Healthcare plans are HIPAA compliant and allow an unlimited number of authorized email addresses and multiple individual user accounts. The Healthcare Basic plan allows multiple users to send and receive up to 500 pages per month for $10.95 with a 17 percent discount if you pay annually. This online fax service offers the most comprehensive security features of the services we reviewed, including the ability to add SSL and PGP encryption. SRFax also offers optical character recognition that enables you to convert handwritten and typed documents so you can edit and search.

The online interface is easy to navigate, which is important because this is one of the few services we reviewed that doesn’t have a companion app. The website is optimized for mobile platforms, but using your mobile device to send a fax is more involved than services like MetroFax, which has a mobile app.

Customization features include a filtered search, separate inboxes for junk faxes, log reports and queued faxes with flexible outgoing scheduling that allows you to set a date and time for up to 50 recipients at a time. All Healthcare and Standard plans include unlimited storage, a free 60-day trial and unlimited outbound users.

4. FaxZero: Best free online fax service

FaxZero

FaxZero

A great online fax service for the person that wants to send the occasional free fax

Reasons to Buy
Has some free services
Reasons to Avoid
Limited feature set

This free online service is a great option for infrequent faxes.

The simple online interface allows you to either attach a DOC, DOCX or PDF file, and add text to a cover page. Unfortunately, FaxZero adds its logo to every cover sheet, which can be a credibility concern in some professional settings. This service limits you to three total pages, plus the cover page, and five faxes per day. If you pay $1.99, the page limit increases to 25 pages per fax and FaxZero’s logo doesn’t appear on the cover sheet.

This service doesn’t include incoming faxes, but you get an email confirming you want to send the fax and one to notify you it was sent. FaxZero has a dedicated page for Congressional Representatives, Senators and Governors that accept fax correspondence with direct links to their fax number. Free faxes are limited to U.S. and Canadian numbers, but FaxZero sends international faxes for around $5.

5. Nextiva: Best for analog fax machines

Nextiva vFax - best online fax service

Nextiva vFax

An online fax service that is compatible with analogue fax machines

Reasons to Buy
Works with analog fax machines
Reasons to Avoid
No mobile app

This is the only service we reviewed that is compatible with analog fax machines. If you prefer to use familiar hardware, it requires a fax bridge that Nextivia sells for $150.

This is one of the most cost-effective services we reviewed. Nextivia offers huge discounts for annual payments that make the Basic plan – with 500 faxes per month – $4.95 instead of $8.95 per month. If you send and receive more than 500 pages per month, the Small Business and Business Pro plans add 1,000 and 3,000 pages per month respectively. All service tiers include fax machine support, free number transfer and 24/7 customer support. Nextivia’s support staff was also the most knowledgeable and helpful of the services we reviewed.

All outgoing faxes are sent through a secure network with 256-bit SSL encryption. Nextivia doesn’t have a companion mobile app, but the online portal is well designed and optimized for mobile use. You can send and receive faxes with a smartphone, but you have to use a web browser app to log into the account. A subscription to all plans includes unlimited users for each number with send and receipt notifications for up to six users for each account.

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Why trust us about online fax services? 

We’ve researched and evaluated online fax services since 2006. Over the last 13 years, we’ve identified the most relevant and unique features for each service and made our recommendations based on our experiences while using the mobile and online interfaces like a typical customer. We also contact customer support teams and ask important questions about the feature tiers, pricing information and various technical aspects to make sure we recommend services with comprehensive and timely support.

How we tested online fax services

To test the functionality and feature set for each service, we created an account and sent a few test faxes to see how long that process took and how easy it was to navigate the online interface. We also downloaded the accompanying mobile apps, when available, and used them to send faxes, receive notifications and make simple changes to the account settings. After we got a feel for the interface and unique features for each service, we contacted the customer support teams via live chat, email or phone and made note of exceptional and lackluster transactions in each service’s review. All the services that made the final cut have all the features you need to securely send a fax using the internet.

Important features of online fax services

Mobile app

You can use an internet-connected mobile device to send faxes with all the services we reviewed. If you plan to primarily use a phone or tablet to send and receive faxes, we recommend choosing a provider with an accompanying mobile app. Using a web browser to access an online portal is much more frustrating than navigating an application built for a mobile platform.

Security and encryption

If you plan to send and receive sensitive information, like healthcare records, bank statements or other confidential personal information, make sure the service you choose specifically mentions HIPPA compliance and enhanced security measures like PGP and SSL encryption. Willfully sending personal medical information through unsecured channels could result in fines of up to $50,000.

Plan flexibility

Analog fax machines are becoming obsolete, because online fax services offer a more affordable and user-friendly platform. For fledgling small businesses, it’s hard to know how long and how frequently you need to use an online fax service, so plan flexibility is important. If you are unsure how frequently you need to use it, we recommend taking advantage of free trial periods, and once you find the service that fits your needs, starting with the lowest tier plan. Service providers are much more willing to upgrade than they are to downgrade a plan, and comprehensive tracking features make it easy to keep a close eye on usage.