Google Online Fax: How to Fax Using a Google Fax Number
Before Google even existed, and for many years, faxing required you not only to buy a fax machine, but also invest in everything that involves having one: the installation of a dedicated fax line, the purchase of supplies for the machine and its regular maintenance. The mere fact of implementing this technology required spending extra resources and time.
Nowadays things are so different, that it’s possible to get a working fax number in a matter of minutes.
We have advanced so much in the field of Internet fax, that we can use a Google fax number to receive faxes directly on Gmail, without having to buy any additional equipment. In this article you will learn how to fax with Google and get a free fax number!
Unfortunately, Google doesn't offer an online fax service for now, so in order to fax online we must use external fax providers. But don't worry, you'll learn how to use them for free!
What's a google Fax Number?
A Google fax number is an online fax number that is linked to your Gmail address, and lets you send and receive fax with your email.
The only way to have this type of number is through an online fax service. They already have numbers available in different cities around the USA, and some even have numbers in different countries around the World!
When you sign up with an online fax service, you'll have a list of numbers to choose from, and you don't have to wait more than minutes for them to be active!
Recommended Google Fax Services
A good service has to be able to easily provide Google fax numbers and at the same time provide the features you need to speed up your faxing tasks. Stay away from services that promise low prices but then want to charge you hefty set-up and overage fees.
Here are the best fax services we can recommend to get started. These are services that allow you to create a free account quickly, so you can get a fax-to-email number in seconds.
RingCentral offers a complete line of virtual office products, including online fax. This is one of our favorite services because it is always at the forefront in the field of email-faxing, providing advanced functions that make the sending and receiving documents to breeze, like the ability to fax with Google products (Gmail, Google Drive).
They offer toll-free and local numbers in all the cities of USA, Canada and United Kingdom.
Understanding How Google Fax Numbers Work
For the user, a Google fax number will automatically redirect faxes to Gmail , so they can be read electronically. But what happens in the background before that?
When someone sends you a fax, she/he will have to dial your virtual fax number. There will be no difference the person sending you the fax, but this number sends the transmission through a digital line to powerful fax servers. It's on these servers that the fax contents will be converted to a digital file, more specifically a PDF which can be opened on any computer or mobile device.
Once the document is converted, it is included as an attachment in an email and then sent to your Gmail account. From there you can download, read or print it as you like. This process takes only a few seconds to complete, and is 100% secure (even more than traditional faxing!).
Can I Get a Free Google Fax Number?
Getting an online fax number is very easy, and the prices for having have dropped considerably since they first appeared about a decade ago. But we all love free stuff right? In this article we’ll take a look at a couple of ways you can get a free online fax number:
- Using a test-drive account
- Using a free temporary fax number
Taking Advantage of Free Trials
Online fax services have been around for quite some time now. These are services that charge you an affordable fee to be able to send and receive a certain amount of pages per month. For this, they provide you a virtual fax number in charge of redirecting incoming faxes to Gmail (that’s why they are also known as Google fax numbers).
Most of these services let you create a free account for 30 days. What’s great about this is that these accounts come with all the set of features included with the service. You basically get a basic plan for a full month, and among these features is the availability of a virtual fax number to receive fax.
At the moment of signing up you’ll be asked to enter the email address you want to use for receiving faxes, and then you’ll need to pick the number associated with the account. There are tow option: a local or a toll-free number.
The only caveat of this method is that you need to enter your credit card information. But you don’t need to worry, they won’t charge you any fee to your credit card unless you keep using your account after the month has passed. Just make sure you cancel it before the trial period and you won’t have any problems. Also, it is a good idea to stick with reputable online fax vendors such as eFax, RingCentral, HelloFax, etc.
2. Using a Temporary Fax Number
There are some services that let you receive faxes with a temporary number. This is a method recommended for people who just want to receive a single fax or a couple of faxes throughout the day. Why? Because these numbers only stay active during 24 hours. If you want to keep receiving fax after the period has ended, you can do so again for free, but your number will be different.
As a matter of fact, it’s probable that your previous fax number has been given to someone else!
One of the companies that offers temporary numbers is FaxBurner. You can use it through a browser or an app. You create an account and then request a fax number when you need it (with a limit of 25 inbound/5 outbound pages). Unlike the previous method, this account is very basic and doesn’t include additional features. Of course, if you want to keep using the same number you’ll have to start paying for a plan.
Is There Another Way to Get it Without a Credit Card?
Unfortunately no. Services charge a fee to have a permanent fax number, or they can move your existing number with them, but you’ll need to pay for a plan the same. The good news is if you rely on faxing and need a more permanent solution, these plans are completely affordable. These days you can find plans for as low as $5 per month, but you need to establish how many pages you expect to send/receive per month.
Free alternatives to send fax are easily found, with all the limitations the have. But it is harder to find a completely free way to receive faxes because you still need an active virtual line.
What Type of Fax Number Should I Pick?
Having the right type of Google fax number number is very important in some industries, so don’t skip this info! Let’s get started!
There are 3 types of online fax numbers you can use to fax:
Local Fax Numbers
These are the ordinary Google fax numbers that are used across the USA. If you are in the same area you just fax to the seven-digit number, but people outside the area (but inside the USA) need to include the number 1 followed by the area code.
Toll-Free Fax Numbers
These are fax-to-email numbers that are free to reach, and are billed for incoming calls. Not so long ago, the only way to request them was through your phone company, using a physical line. Now, services are able to offer numbers with different toll-free prefixes including: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844 and 833.
Note that these prefixes are for US-based numbers. If you plan to get a toll-free fax number for another country it is best to talk to your provider first and see what you options are.
Vanity Fax Numbers
These are a special kind of Google fax numbers because they are not offered right away when you create an account, yet you can request one of these for an additional fee (RingCentral, for example, charges you a $30 setup fee).
Vanity numbers are simply numbers that spell a certain word. I’m sure you have seen them before, they look like this: 1-800-DOCTORS, 313-KANSASFC, etc.
Porting An Existing Fax Number
Changing your fax number and updating your contacts can be a real pain in the you-know-where, especially when you have had a fax number for years. In these cases we recommend you move your current number to a digital platform.
If you use Google Voice, with this method you can use your number for inbound documents.
The number porting is done through your Google fax provider’s, taking advantage that they have already relationships with phone companies across USA and in some countries around the World.
To start you need to request the porting process to your current fax service. You may be asked to pay an additional fee to complete the process.
By porting a number you are moving it from a landline to a virtual line. This means your number will now work over an Internet connection, using what is called Fax Over Internet Protocol, or FoIP.
Now, because this number works over the Internet, it’s not just a matter of quickly changing the company handling the number. The process may take a few days to complete, until the information has been propagated across the Web.
Services know this may cause interruptions and problems when trying to reach your line, that’s why they give you a temporary fax number. This number will forward incoming faxes to Gmail while the propagation is completed. Once the process is finished you'll be able to fax through Google.
Is Google Fax Secure?
Security when transmitting faxes is extremely important, especially if you work in fields like law, healthcare and finance, where there are strict regulations governing the sharing and faxing of sensitive information.
Organizations of all kinds still choose fax as the preferred method to share documents, even when sharing a file these days is as easy as using an instant messaging app. That’s because they value security above else. Despite all the conveniences of instant messaging, we have been proven time and time again that mass-oriented online messaging technologies are not as safe as we would want to.
Faxing with a machine on the other hand is relatively secure. The document travels directly to its recipient using an analog phone line, and there is no chance that this information gets intercepted. On top of that, you get a confirmation when your fax is fully printed on the other end, unlike modern apps that have the option of hiding this information.
But what if you send fax online with Gmail? If we are using the email channel, does this means that our documents are vulnerable? In this article we will take a look at these questions. You’ll learn that email faxing is actually more secure than traditional faxing.
Understanding How Email Fax Works
This is what happens when you send an email to fax:
- You compose an email message with an attachment
- The email goes your online fax service’s fax servers, where the attachment is converted into a fax file.
- The service encrypts this information and sends it to the receiver’s fax machine.
As you can see, you are not sending the fax to another email. You send it for conversion on the service’s fax servers which act as a protective “wall” against interceptions. The document goes then through additional security measures before reaching the fax machine.
The only way other people can read a fax you send is if your email information is compromised. That’s why it is recommended you use a strong password and change it at least every month. Gmail lets you know at the moment of creating your account if your password meets the strength criteria.
On the other hand the online fax service gives you maximum security. With additional options designed to ensure your documents arrive safely and privately.
Security Features of Email Fax Services
Password protection. On your service’s settings area, you can add password protection for faxes arriving to your email. enter and confirm your password, and next time a fax arrives your email, it will contain PDF protection, meaning only you can read its contents. The password can be changed or turned off at any time without accessing Gmail.
Encryption. Before your fax travels from the fax servers to the receiver, they will be protected with point-to-point encryption. This type of encryption adds a cover to your data, effectively hiding it.
Automatic fax removal. You can set your faxes to be deleted from your account after they have been opened. This option can remain active for scheduled amount of time.
Unique file types. There are some providers that have developed their own apps to open encrypted faxes. They basically deliver your fax in a unique file format, that you won’t be able to read unless you use the app or program. It’s a very ingenious way of handling additional fax security, although it depends on the operating system you are using.
Access Control. Corporate online fax services let you access all your faxes from a virtual drive. This cloud storage is protected using 256-bit AES encryption.
What About HIPAA Compliant Faxes?
If you work on healthcare, you must ensure your faxes are not only 100% secure, but are also HIPAA-compliant. The HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which states that:
“Individually identifiable health information should be protected with reasonable administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure its confidentiality, integrity, and availability and to prevent unauthorized or inappropriate access, use, or disclosure.”
Luckily, the best fax services are able to provide this kind of security, but you have to ask for it at the moment of creating your account, or by opening what is known as a “corporate” account. The service must hand you a “Business Associate Agreement” for this purpose. In this agreement your online fax service will be determined as your HIPAA fax partner. The agreement is required by HIPAA HITECH.
Pros of Having a Google Fax Number
For those who want to get rid of a fax machine, using a service with an online fax number is an easy and fast solution. With an online fax number you can receive a fax straight on your computer without any type of physical installation.
What are the benefits of a digital fax number? There are many ways this type of number will improve your faxing experience:
- It’s faster.
- It replaces a dedicated landline.
- It’s affordable.
- You can have one just minutes from now.
- Access your faxes digitally.
- Improves security.
- You can choose between different types of numbers.
- It’s available for international companies.
Let’s take an in-depth look at each one of these benefits.
A virtual fax number is capable of receiving incoming faxes automatically, and it does this much faster than a fax machine. Instead of waiting for the document to be printed, it is forwarded as digital form to your Gmail address.
You’ll also be free from problems such as paper jams and poor document printing results, which can take precious minutes of your time.
2. Acts as a Dedicated Fax Line
A fax machine needs to be connected to a dedicated line to avoid interruptions during transmissions. Sure, you can use a common phone line but be prepared to miss some faxes along the way! Things get worse when you have a home office, you could be in the middle of a fax transmission when someone lifts the phone. The result? Yo have to request the document all over again.
An online fax number works just like a dedicated line. This number is used exclusively for fax transmissions and it remains active all day, every day even when your computer’s been turned off. People sending you faxes won't notice a difference between a digital and a physical dedicated line.
3. It’s Affordable and Ready to Be Used in Minutes
Speaking of dedicated lines, to have a new landline you need to request it from your phone by paying a fee. Then you have to wait a few days or weeks until the technicians come to your office and add your line. In the meantime, you won’t be able to receive faxes.
An online fax number, on the other hand, is given to you immediately at the moment of signing up for a service. Enter your details, the email address you want to receive faxes, pick your number and then start faxing right away.
The virtual numbers are also more affordable. You are just basically just paying for the service, the number is given to your for free as long as you have an active membership with a provider.
4. Deliver faxes digitally
Why keep using paper when we can simply read our documents on our screen? A digital number lets you get started with paperless fax, reducing the amount of paper waste and consumption in your office.
Paperless offices are the future. As global warming continues to increase, it's our duty to use technology that helps us reduce the amount of damage we are doing to the Planet. Upon receiving a fax you can choose to print it only if it's needed.
5. It's Safe
Digital faxes are even more secure than fax machines. Not only fax providers include security measures like advanced encryption and secure transmissions, but they are also able to give you a HIPAA compliant service, which comes in handy if you are using fax for sensitive information like patient info, if you work on the healthcare industry.
Incoming faxes can arrive in a special format that is only readable by the app provided by your service, and you can easily add passwords and watermarks to incoming and outgoing PDF files.
6. Multiple Number Options
You have 4 types of numbers you can use to receive faxes: a toll-free number, a local number, a vanity number, or you can keep using your number. This last option is called number porting, a process that will transfer your number from your phone company to a virtual fax server.
7. International availability
Plenty of fax services have relationships with foreign phone companies, allowing them to offer numbers in other territories. An international fax number lets companies from other countries use the service, and can help expanding your company’s presence.
For international number availability, refer to the FAQ section of your preferred email fax service. There are companies like eFax and MyFax with numbers available in dozens of countries around the Globe. Just keep in mind that not all countries offer toll-free and vanity varieties of numbers.
8. Easy to Get Started!
If you want to get a fax number right now, simply head to the service of your preference and create a new account. It's as easy as following a few information fields!
Even if you don't want to invest in a monthly fax subscription you can obtain a number for free by creating a free trial account. Most services let you test out their plans for a month, including an online fax number. They may ask you for credit card info, but they won't charge you anything during that month, it's just a way of preventing fax fraud and spam.