SRFax review: A good low-cost faxing option

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SRFax stands out from the other best online fax services with a lowest-tier plan that offers more pages for both inbound and outbound faxes on a monthly basis. It also involves less hassle than the free services — GotFreeFax and FaxZero as well as the free tiers for HelloFax and Fax.Plus — that we looked at. Beyond its reasonable pricing structure, SRFax's features and presentation make it a solid choice.

One caveat: SRFax is the only service we reviewed here that has its offices in Canada. As such, its terms of service are governed by the laws of British Columbia. This shouldn't present a problem to most individual users, but it's something business users may want to consider.

SRFax review: Pricing

SRFax's home plans have three tiers. The lowest-cost tier is the Basic 25 Plan, which costs $3.29 a month (or $3 monthly, prepaid annually) for 25 free pages inbound or outbound, and 10 cents a page thereafter. That's not bad when you consider what you deal with for the free plans from HelloFax, GotFreeFax and FaxZero. For the cost of a latte a month, you gain the inbound number — which none of the free options have — and the freedom to send or receive up to 25 pages a month. For low-volume fax users with occasional faxing needs, this plan could represent the best choice of the lot.

That $3.29 starting price gives you a low-cost alternative to MetroFax, if your faxing needs are light. But MetroFax becomes a better pricing option the more pages you need to fax. SRFax's $6.95 per month Lite 200 Plan (which costs $5.50 when you prepay annually) provides 200 free pages inbound or outbound a month, plus only 6 cents per page overage beyond that. The Standard 500 Plan bumps that up to 500 pages a month. It costs $9.95 a month, or $7.96 if you prepay for a full year. In contrast, MetroFax's 500-page tier starts at $9.95 a month (with annual plans bringing that monthly cost down to $8.30).

SRFax pricing scales from there for higher volume plans targeted at business and corporate faxing. Those plans also allow you to add an additional fax number  for $4.95. International rates vary, but seem reasonable as compared with some other services, ranging from 5 cents a page for most of Europe and Asia to $1.85 a page for islands in the South Pacific.

Lately, SRFax has touted its compliance with HIPAA, which will certainly attract the interest of healthcare pros who need to fax while still observing patient privacy. There are separate healthcare faxing plans at SRFax, with prices starting at $7.95 a month for 200 pages. A Healthcare Standard plan with 1,500 pages will cost $30.95 a month.

Free Trial: There's no free trial for SRFax's $3.29-per-month basic plan, but both the $6.95 and $9.95 plans offer generous 60-day free trials, the longest of any services we reviewed. Be aware that the trial limits you to a maximum of 20 outbound faxes a day plus unlimited inbound faxes.

SRFax review: Setup

To sign up at SRFax, you'll choose whether you want a toll-free fax or a local fax number. The local fax options appear limited by comparison to other services. You pick from a drop-down menu of cities and the available area code for that city, not by your actual area code. This approach proved more kludgey than just typing in a desired area code; and, we found examples where SRFax sometimes listed a city, while other times it listed a county.

Once you choose the area code, you get a choice of three numbers in that area code. You then enter your email, password and company name, and check whether the fax number will be used for personal health info. (That's presumably related to HIPPA compliance.) Add billing information, choose whether you want to add full-text searching of incoming faxes for an extra $1, and then you're done. SRFax uses your email and password generated during the sign-up process as your login information.

SRFax review: File support

SRFax supports 104 file formats. That's one the widest variety of formats supported among these services. SRFax also supports content inside of a .zip archive, which is uncommon.

SRFax review: Interface

SRFax's web-based interface is clean yet text-centric and to the point — refreshingly different from rival services. You log in, and you pop directly into the My Account tab that shows your account information, including a status bar that shows how many pages you've used so far. The rest of the options are presented in clean text at the top of the page, with borderless tabs for Faxes, Settings, My Account and Support.

Send a Fax is the first option under the Faxes tab. Again, the interface is straightforward: Select the sender, the type of fax (single or broadcast), the destination, add an internal reference number if desired, add a cover page and upload files. The maximum size of each attachment is 50MB; you can attach as many documents as you'd like (though that could make it harder to figure out what documents got sent successfully if there's a transmission problem).

SRFax offers options that most other fax services do not. Of the ones we looked at, SRFax is the only one that clearly allows fax broadcasting. And while Nextiva vFax also has fax scheduling, SRFax offers more flexibility and lets you schedule by both date and time.

You can add a cover page. To customize a cover page, you'll need to go into the Settings tab. And SRFax is HIPAA-compliant and can work with PGP-encrypted email, if you need those levels of protection.

The Faxes Received and Faxes Sent tabs share the same straightforward presentation. You can sort by date, either within a chosen month or within all faxes. The neat, linear style is easy to read and provides a filter for searches. Detailed fax-viewing options also include separate sections for junk faxes, faxes queued and log reports — a level of detail most of the competition doesn't get into.

Dig around the Settings tab, and you'll find a plethora of controls that are not commonly found for fax services. You can choose your format for email notifications, pick between PDF and TIFF for the fax attachment file delivery, and even set how many default retries should happen when sending a fax. The level of detail available in SRFax is uncommon, making it a good choice for business users or those who like a lot of customization.

Another point in SRFax's favor: It offers a dedicated printer driver download for use with Windows. While very prosaic in appearance, this handy .exe file lets you add SRFax as a print option from any Windows application that allows you to print. This unique feature was very handy, even if it requires multiple steps should you want to add multiple fax numbers or a cover page.

SRFax review: Mobile apps

SRFax lacks a dedicated mobile app. But at least the web-based service has a responsive design, so it works well on any mobile platform. I tried SRFax on an iPhone 6s Plus using the Safari browser, and had no problems logging in and sending a fax. You can do almost everything you could in a dedicated app — view faxes and forward — though, I couldn't manage to download a fax on iOS.

SRFax review: Verdict

SRFax is uncommonly rich in features and flexibility. The interface is clean, if not graphically pretty. I liked how it handled, and how it easily reported information. It's a strong option for individuals as well as businesses, especially if you're looking to save money on your online fax needs.

Melissa Perenson is a freelance writer. She has reviewed the best tax software for Tom's Guide for several years, and has also tested out fax software, among other things. She spent more than a decade at PC World and TechHive, and she has freelanced for numerous publications including Computer Shopper, TechRadar and Consumers Digest.