Just by reading the Sfax’s own description, it’s clear the service targets an audience that is a bit more specialized than the average fax service. Scrypt, which provides the Sfax cloud faxing service, has worked in health care for almost two decades. So it makes sense that Sfax would distinguish itself by underscoring its HIPAA compliance.
Since our last look at Sfax, that’s even more true: Scrypt has doubled-down on its health care focus, with new features such as integration with Citrix Sharefile for Healthcare. (Note that Scrypt and Sfax have been bought by fax powerhouse J2 Global, which also operates MetroFax and Efax.)
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Cloud fax services are required to sign a BAA (Business Associate Agreement) to be considered HIPAA compliant. And a HIPAA-compliant cloud service provider must have accountability for its data storage and recovery policies. Medical offices and individuals who actively use fax to retain their own medical data outside of the realm of a personal health record will find this service appealing. Sfax provides audit trails for HIPPA documents as well as annotations and digital signature.
Sfax's pricing is definitely geared toward a professional audience. The company seems to have done away with its $9-a-month basic plan with plans now starting at $29 per month for 350 pages. For 700, it costs $49, and scales up to $159 for the Pro account with 2,500 pages per month. All plans include a toll-free number. (Annual pricing shaves about 30 percent off those prices.) By comparison, Nextiva vFax costs $12.95 per month for 1,000 pages.
Free Trial: SFax lets you try out its service for 14 days; you will need to provide a credit card when you sign up, though.
Once you've provided your credit card to begin your free trial, you'll need to verify the account via the link sent to your email; from there, configuration is easy and friendly. The interface offers clearly differentiated text and colors to guide you — two surprising finds in the graphically challenged, staid world of cloud fax services.
You’ll choose a username and password, get your toll-free number (you can opt to port an existing number, if you prefer), and config your timezone and when you want notifications delivered via email (upon receipt, delivery or if the fax failed). You can then review your info, print it and set up the security options. Those options are copious — another differentiator of this service. Of particular note: You can add additional users (unlimited maximum), and even control the fax permissions for those users.
Sfax can handle the usual complement of document and images file formats for sending faxes: .DOC, .DOCX, .XLS, .XLXS, .PPT, .ODT, ODS, .ODP, .RTG, .PDF and .TXT, as well as .BMP, .TIF, .GIF, .JPG and .PNG.
The Web interface for Sfax is one of the more visually attractive and intuitive I’ve seen. It has a handy nav sidebar and hierarchy that makes visual sense. The navigational elements are simple graphics fixed beneath the Sfax logo: Fax inbox, contacts, cover pages, library and settings. Beneath these core nav icons, the menus change with the context of the selected option, as does the display at right. For example, the Fax inbox has a nested file-folder structure, and the ability to show faxes by date and to search both incoming and sent faxes. These are powerful options, regardless of your fax business.
Sfax recently added the ability to search subfolders with the inbox and to search both incoming and sent faxes simultaneously; previously, you could do so only by folder. These features are powerful, useful, and distinguish Sfax from the competion.
You can import a CSV contacts file, or add contacts manually. For businesses, it’s terrific to have multiple cover pages stored for different purposes, all clearly visible at a glance.
The document library is the final core differentiator here: Upload documents you know will be sent often — say a release form or information about a procedure — and even edit those documents with Sfax as needed. While I focused on the Sfax Web interface, the service has a downloadable Mac and Windows print drivers, so you can print a document to the Sfax service. Sfax also has iOS and Android viewer apps.
A new iOS app lets you send and manage faxes. This app is convenient and well designed, with a clear and friendly interface and the ability to send directly from the camera roll as well. The iOS app is also HIPAA-compliant, which we’d expect given Sfax’s niche specialty.
Sending and Receiving
The Web interface for Sfax is straightforward. Add the recipient phone number, or select a recipient from the contacts; upload your file(s) or choose a document from the library; select the cover page; and hit send. Unlike other services, you can’t send a fax via email.
The interface here could have been a bit clearer, though: On our first send, I forgot to add a subject for the cover page, just because it wasn’t as visually differentiated. Also, the send button stays fixed at the top of page, a little odd considering your attention is at the bottom of the Web page. I received a prompt confirmation email after a successful fax transmission. Likewise, I received email notifying me of inbound faxes, with a link to the fax in the Sfax cloud inbox.
Sfax is one of the better, more versatile fax services we’ve tested. While its self-touted HIPAA compliance targets specific industries, its flexible interface and multiple user support makes it a good choice for business who need these features, and are willing to pay the price. And the addition of a dedicated iOS mobile app for sending and receiving faxes is a big bonus.