Faxing may seem like a relic of yesteryear — at least until you're required to fax an important form or document. When faxing is the best way to get your document from Point A to Point B, we recommend MetroFax as the top online fax service. Its combination of fax-management features and easy-to-use software makes it an ideal choice for either individuals or small businesses, and it's attractively priced.
If MetroFax doesn't meet your needs, our testing of more than a dozen different faxing services found two compelling alternatives. We were impressed by the amount of detail and customization provided by SRFax, which offers a cheaper option than MetroFax for individual users. Although expensive relative to the other services we've rated, Sfax is also a compelling choice, particularly if you work in a field that has stringent privacy rules and need a fax service that complies with HIPPA data privacy requirements.
Many of the fax services we test offer trial periods, if your faxing needs are of the one-and-done variety. When it comes to free options, our testing indicates you generally get what you pay for, but if you're absolutely determined to use a free service, HelloFax's free tier is the best option, though you're limited to five pages total.
What You'll Pay for an Online Fax Service
Online fax providers typically offer multiple tiers of service that put limits on the number of pages you can send and receive each month. You can opt to pay on a monthly basis, though several services will offer a discount if you pay annually. (We list monthly pricing in our reviews.) Monthly prices on the entry-level tiers range between $3 and $29.
All of the services we've reviewed offer free trial periods or — in the case of HelloFax, GotFreeFax and FaxZero — free service tiers. (Those service tiers place pretty restrictive limits on the number of faxes you can send.) A 30-day free trial is fairly typical, though SRFax offers a 60-day trial on its pricier tiers. With free trials, you'll generally need to provide a credit card, placing the burden on you to cancel service before the trial period ends.
Best Overall Fax Service: MetroFax
Few services make it as easy to send and receive faxes as MetroFax does. The service's web portal is easy to navigate, and MetroFax has the best mobile app of the options we've tested. Support for a wide range of file formats means MetroFax is likely to meet your needs, and you'll particularly appreciate the ability to tag and search faxes. At $7.95 a month for 500 pages — the price drops by more than a dollar if you pay annually — MetroFax is reasonably priced, too, putting it at the top of our rankings.
Best Value: SRFax
SRFax doesn't offer the fax tagging and searching features you get from MetroFax, but it's a good alternative, especially if you have modest faxing needs. A $3.29-a-month basic plan gives you 25 free pages inbound or outbound, and pages after that cost just 10 cents each. The web-based interface is clean and easy to use, even on a mobile device, which is good as there is no dedicated mobile app.
Best for Businesses: Sfax
If the documents you're sending need to stay secure, look no further than Sfax. The faxing service offers HIPPA-compliant faxing as well as a number of other features geared toward the health care industry. With plans starting at $29 a month, Sfax is one of the more expensive services we've tested, but its business-focused features are delivered in a pleasing, intuitive interface.
Other Fax Services Tested
Here's a summary of other services we've reviewed, along with their strengths and weaknesses.
|Service||Price (Monthly)||Pros||Cons||Rating (Out of 10)|
|HelloFax||Pleasing interface; Supports signatures; Offers a limited free tier for one-and-done users; Connects to popular cloud storage services||Poor storage organization and indexing; No customizable cover page; Other services offer more pages for the price||7|
|Nextiva vFax||Easy fax tracking; Substantially lower price if you pay annually; Good control over notifications||Poor web portal design; Mobile app doesn’t support faxing||7|
|RingCentral Fax||Scheduled faxing; Support for web storage; Text message alerts||No management for inbound and outbound faxes; Web interface isn’t specifically dedicated to faxing||7|
|Efax||Clean design; Useful mobile apps||Expensive; Outdated documentation; Clunky digital signature feature||6|
|GotFreeFax||Simple interface; No registration required; Inexpensive once you exceed the free tier limits||Free tier is limited to three pages per fax up to two faxes per day; No incoming fax service||5|
|FaxZero||Simple interface; Inexpensive||Slow two-step sending process; No mobile app; Free service adds company branding to cover pages||4|
Why Use an Online Fax Service
There are plenty of reasons for turning to an online provider for your faxing needs. Physical fax machines remain a hassle, and can often be painfully slow to send documents. Plus, who wants to listen to the annoying digital handshake tones?
With an online service, you don't need to be by a physical fax machine to send your fax. And you don't have to worry about busy signals, since the system will wait and send when the recipient's fax frees up. Likewise, for receiving faxes, you don't have to have your PC on, nor do you have to hear a ring when an incoming fax arrives. It's the best possible marriage of old and new technologies.
Since so many documents originate in digital form, or can easily be converted into digital form, electronic faxing makes perfect sense. If you need to have a greater degree of tracking and scheduling than what you get with a simple fax-on-demand system, there are services that can help with that, too.
How We Test Online Fax Services
Our fax service recommendations come after more than 100 hours of testing a dozen different services (some of which have since been bought out by competitors and thus have been dropped from this report). In addition to our initial testing, we periodically go back to services we've looked at previously to see if new features are added or pricing has changed; we then update our ratings accordingly.
When evaluating fax services, we consider pricing as well as the number of pages you can send and receive under a given plan. We also pay careful attention to each service's interface, ease of operation and overall features. We send and receive faxes, observing how long it appeared to take for an outbound fax to send. This is difficult to gauge, since most services simply take a moment to process, then will later deliver a confirmation that the fax was sent.
6 Quick Fax Service Shopping Tips
When considering a service, consider the following questions to help you find a provider that fits your needs:
- Do you need only one number, or multiple numbers that are linked?
- Do you need workgroup support, so others can access the inbound and outbound faxes for that line?
- Do you need a custom number for sending your faxes?
- Do you want to customize your fax cover sheet?
- How many pages do you anticipate sending and receiving each month?
- Do you need an easily searchable archive of inbound and outbound faxes?
Some of the shadier online fax services come with a number of buyer-beware gotchas. Watch out for services that charge a one-time setup fee. Before selecting a service, do your due diligence and check the company's About Us page. This should tell you where the company is based. If a vendor is based overseas, there may be no ability to reach a human, in the event of a problem.
Finally, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints, especially if you're signing up for the trial service: Some companies have become notorious for not canceling a trial when requested.
It's worth noting that J2 Global has bought up many different electronic fax brands, though several of those businesses continue to operate under different names. Among the services we've reviewed, J2 owns both MetroFax and Efax, and it bought Sfax's parent company, Scrypt, last year. Those three services operate independently, so we've kept their reviews separate.
Credit: Vector Tradition/Shutterstock
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