Virtual fax, or sometimes called Internet fax, has become commonplace in thousands of offices worldwide, and its popularity can be attributed to its low cost, ease of use, and dependable features. However, many offices still don’t use Internet fax services, and in fact, many people don’t actually know what virtual fax is or how it works.
To put it simply, a virtual fax service allows a company to send and receive an almost unlimited number of faxes through its Internet connection. Fax lines don’t need to be run or installed to fax over the Internet, and they’re faster and more dependable than standard fax machines because of their better connections. Companies that use Internet based fax systems enjoy a professional, digital alternative to paper faxes.
In order to use a virtual fax system, a company must buy the service from one of many providers. These providers use specialized servers to convert received faxes into digital documents, and then send that fax to an email address of the users choice. If a computer user knows how to use email, he or she can easily use a virtual fax system. The low training costs of the Internet fax services are a major selling point for some companies, particularly large corporations looking for a low cost yet convenient technology investment.
To send Internet faxes through a virtual system the process is simply reversed–documents are scanned and sent to the appropriate fax number. The software that handles these functions is very simple and secure, and can be easily operated by any computer user with a working scanner.
One of the major benefits of virtual fax is the technology’s ability to bridge old technology and new technology. To receive Internet faxes is effortless; and as virtual fax systems use standard seven digit fax numbers, the sender doesn’t have to do anything differently. The receiver, however, gets the fax as a standard document or PDF file rather than a printed page. This can be advantageous, as digital files can be used in a number of ways that paper faxes cannot. For instance, searching through hundreds of faxes is simplified and only takes a few mouse clicks. Documents can be quickly emailed around, and office communication is drastically improved by a virtual fax system. Storage is also improved with a virtual fax system, as hundreds of faxes can be saved on a simple thumb drive. In small offices, this can be a big advantage, as it allows a company to utilize space more efficiently.
Because virtual fax systems are set up entirely through the Internet, adding multiple lines doesn’t take much time and doesn’t require too much additional investment. The company providing the service simply adds additional numbers. Separate “lines” can be set up to go to different users on the same system. For instance, if a sales department has a common email address, a digital fax line can be set up to send to that email. This feature makes digital fax systems much more flexible and adaptable than traditional fax systems, which could easily become unnecessarily complex, particularly when different departments need to share a single fax machine.
Virtual fax services often have security features. Faxes sent to certain lines can be encrypted so that a password is required to open them. This is only possible through certain fax services and with certain document types, but it’s a much-needed feature for hundreds of businesses that rely on the old “standing by the fax machine” method to ensure security.
Understanding a virtual fax system can take a bit of time and experimentation, but the basics of the services are quite simple. They offer a low cost design that’s extremely flexible and expandable. Fax management is handled by an external company, improving up-time and system reliability. New lines can be added easily, and digital documents offer their users a new range of options that standard fax machines simply can’t provide.