The Best Online Fax Services of 2016

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Online fax services let you send and receive faxes through email or Web interfaces. They take the machine out of faxing, letting you maintain a dedicated fax number without the need for a landline. If you need to send or receive faxes on the regular, these are the services to trust.

Pricing
All the fax services we reviewed charge a monthly fee. What you get in return is an allotment of pages. Sometimes companies distinguish between how many pages you receive and how many you send. That's the case for eFax, MyFax, and Send2Fax. Nextiva and MetroFax offer a pool of pages, which is the more flexible approach. With a pool of fax pages, you don't end up paying for, say, received pages you might not end up using if you're more likely to be the sender.

Pooled page plans also make it easier to avoid paying overage fees. These are per-page fees assessed when you exceed your monthly budget of pages. Nextiva vFAX and MetroFax had the lowest fees, at a mere 3 cents per page. That's not bad at all. Send2Fax, on the other hand, had the highest, at 12 cents per page.

Note that depending on your service, sending international faxes may not be covered in your plan. If that's the case, you'll have to pay an additional fee—sometimes on a graduated scale depending on the recipient's location and usually per page. If you do a lot of business overseas, be sure to check the fax company's terms of service before faxing to Timbuktu.

Setup fees are annoying, and thankfully a rarity in the world of online fax services. Only one of the services, eFax, charges one. It already has the highest monthly cost of any service we've reviewed, and its initial cost is nearly doubled when you factor in its setup fee.

What's Included?
All of the fax services we looked at have the same core features. The most important is a fax number. These services let you select an area code and assign you an available phone number for receiving and sending faxes. Some services, like eFax and MyFax, will even let you select a fax number with the country code of your choice for no extra fee.

Don't like making faxers pay money to reach you? Consider getting a toll-free fax number. These are free and managed by the fax service, except for Nextiva vFAX, which doesn't support toll-free numbers. On the other hand, if you already have a dedicated fax number, you can port that number into any of the services we've reviewed.

At the heart of each service is a Web interface through which you can send documents and text from your computer to a fax machine. Received faxes are also accessible through the Web interface, usually as PDF attachments. Sometimes these are viewable directly in your browser, but some services insist that you download faxes before you can read them.

The easiest way to use any of these services is through your existing email client. Received faxes are forwarded as email attachments or as links to files hosted online. The documents include timestamps, coversheets, and all the information you'd receive about the sender through a traditional fax machine.

You can also send faxes via email. Simply type the fax number, including country and area code, into the address line followed by an "@" and then a URL specific to the fax service. The subject line and body text appear on the fax cover page, and any attachments are faxed as separate pages. Best of all, your fax number appears as the sender, so there's no confusion about where the message originated.

Performance
All of the services we tested had no trouble sending or receiving faxes. In fact, the hardest part of our test process was finding a functional fax machine to verify each that each service was working.

The one initial exception to this was eFax. When we started with eFax, the service would not allow us to send faxes via email. Doing so kicked up a bewildering error message, and we were forced to contact customer support. It took nearly two weeks, but the problem was eventually solved.

Lastly, we encountered some unusual overlaps in our testing. eFax, MyFax, and MetroFax all use an identical Web interface (though they each have a different pricing structure and feature set). The connection goes even deeper: We discovered that it's impossible to sign up for a new account with eFax, Send2Fax, or MetroFax if you already used your email address with one of the others. That's odd, but it's unlikely to be a problem for most users who will only require a single fax service.

Start Faxing
Hunting around for a fax machine can be a pain, and paying for a dedicated landline just to send faxes via a combination printer/scanner/fax machine can get pricey. With that in mind, online fax services make a lot of sense. Dig into the full reviews linked below to see which one will work best for you and/or your business.

Editors' Note: eFax, MetroFax, MyFax, and Send2Fax are owned by J2 Global, the parent company of PCMag's publisher, Ziff Davis.

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