Is a free Internet fax service right for your business?

Is a free Internet fax service right for your business?

In todays business environment, many companies move towards using virtual workers instead of having employees working in a physical office space. A common issue that causes fax communication. Not all workers will have personal fax machines, which means that Internet fax usage is a key element for maintaining the productivity of a company. There are paid and free services that both have their positive and negative elements. The most important factors to consider when selecting an Internet fax service are cost, content constraints and usability.

The ongoing cost of Internet fax usage is why many companies choose free fax services. However, there is an intangible cost for free Internet fax services that many companies overlook. These services often require that advertisements be included in each fax that is sent. The ads are selected by the service provider and may contain content that the provider considers appropriate, which may or may not accurately reflect the goals of your business.

Conversely, paid internet services can come with valuable amenities at a very manageable cost. Most paid services will run a cost structure ranging from 10 to 20 per month and can be paid annually at small discounts. Some will also require a setup fee of approximately 10 or less, while others may have additional fees for storage and delivery of content.

Free internet fax companies will generally offer a limited number of daily transfers. The boundaries are usually set to three to eight documents daily with the majority setting limit at the lower end of the spectrum. Many also limit the amount of pages per transfer as well. Some free online fax options will also allow an option to simply receive fax transfers. Normally, no document storage or multiple user options are available without upgrading to a premium or paid package. All region numbers are not available with all free services.

Paid Internet Fax Providers set the shipping limit at a much higher level, usually between 100 and 1000 documents daily if there is a limit at all. Some companies shared the transmission limits between incoming and outgoing documents with a separate limit for each. These limits are the most common area for attaching additional fees. Overage fees are sometimes available. Document storage is also often offered monthly. Most Internet Fax Packages allow upgrades to storage for longer year lengths. The fees for upgrading document storage are usually about 3 per month. Fees are sometimes assessed due to transition time after the agreed timeframe is exceeded.

The method used to deliver Internet fax transfers to free services is usually email or attached attachments. This method is very user friendly for most computer savvy workers. It has some limitations. Mobile access is not available. Technical support is minimal for most free services and many provide no guarantees for the quality, security or reliability of the service. Many are web based, making them easy to use. These do not provide any type of document copy via the service. A company that uses these types of online fax services must make backups before sending any documents. Free services usually do not require a login or user ID and can be used by many employees of the companies that use the service.

Premium or paid Internet fax services usually support multiple users through a corporate login. Some will support up to 25 users. Pricing does not seem to change with the number of allowed users. Technical support is available for these paid services, which makes them much more accessible to the beginner. Service portability is also available with some Internet fax packages. Being able to use a mobile phone or other Internet enabled device to send a fax can add a whole new productivity dimension to many businesses.

Having weighed the costs and benefits of both free and paid Internet fax services, it can be easy to choose which service is most suitable for different companies. Smaller companies with rare use and no need to store repeated transfer documents will usually benefit from the cost savings and user friendliness of the free services. Companies with heavier use, with concern about the security or the preservation of a professional image, or a need for global availability and storage of global services, will find the paid services better suited to their needs.

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