A Google fax number is simply a virtual fax number that redirects all incoming faxes to your Gmail address’ inbox, allowing you to fax from your computer without leaving the big G’s services.
Some years ago, when we had to use fax machines to send and receive documents, we needed to have a dedicated fax line so we could communicate without problems with clients and providers. This line, of course, cost money so we had to take that into account on top of the cost of the fax machine.
Nowadays the World is very different. Thanks to the development of online fax technology we can use our Gmail address to send and receive fax in a matter of seconds. One of the biggest advantages of this is that we don’t need to pay more for a dedicated fax line; we can instead opt to use a Google fax number.
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To be able to fax from Google you need two things: a Gmail address (which I guess you already have!) and an email fax service. A service is needed to be able to send and receive faxes online, they have different features to make faxing faster and easier, but the one that is of interest for us in this article is the availability of free virtual fax numbers with each account.
When you sign up for an email fax service you are given the option of choosing between a toll-free or a local number, depending on what works best for your company. This virtual fax number will “grab” incoming faxes and send them for immediate digital conversion. This is a very easy process that takes place in the background. At the same time, you will also be able to send fax from Gmail with this virtual line. More info on how to set things up with Gmail in this article.
To this day, the only way to get a virtual number is through a fax service provider. You can find different sites to fax online for free, but they only let you send one or two pages of fax per day or IP address, and don’t give you any type of number to receive faxes – this means that you still need a fax machine and a dedicated line! That’s not what we want. Services on the other hand charge you a monthly fee for faxing, it can go as low as $5 per month, which is really affordable by any type of business, and your number comes included free of charge. But what if you want a completely free solution? Is there any way to get a number without spending money?
You can get your Gmail fax number at no extra cost if you sign up for a free trial account with a fax service. Most major services offer you the chance of opening a fully-featured test account that is active for 30 days. These accounts work exactly the same as “paid” accounts, which means that you will have the option of choosing your own virtual number at the moment of signing up. This alternative is not only great to get a number, but also to test out which service ends up being more helpful for you or your business.
Recommended Google Fax Services
These are the services that in our opinion do a better job at letting you fax from Google apps. They integrate perfectly with Gmail and are reliable for occasional and power users, what’s better, they let you try them for free before you actually start paying for a plan!
- RingCentral Fax. They do a perfect job integrating fax features in Gmail, with local and toll-free numbers available in USA, Canada, and most recently UK. This fax service is packed with lots of useful features.
- eFax is one of the top rated fax services in the World. As a matter of fact, this company has presence (and numbers) available in more than 40 countries, making it the biggest fax company right now. You can create your account very quickly and pick between local and toll-free numbers available in your area.
- MyFax. Their plans pack a lot of punch for a good price. Although this company is “younger” than the two listed above, it has quickly landed among the top Gmail fax services thanks to its integration and reliability. It may lack some advanced features but if you want to only take care of basic faxing this service is perfect for you.
How a Google Fax Number Works
When someone wants to send a fax with a computer or machine they will use your virtual number, which is just as any common fax number out there. This number will get the TIFF image transmitted by the fax machine and will send it to powerful fax servers which are able to convert the image into a digital file (usually a PDF) and forward it to your Gmail inbox. This is a fully automated process, you don’t have to intervene at no point, the only thing you do is check your inbox for new fax messages as if they were new emails. Learn more about how to receive faxes on a Gmail inbox.
Most major fax companies on the Web offer numbers covering major cities across the USA, but you can also find good services such as MyFax and RingCentral, which offer numbers in Canada or UK; and if that doesn’t cover your area you can try eFax which offers number in more than 40 countries around the Globe. The trick is to research a bit and see what’s better for your specific case.
Which type of number to choose is entirely up to you, some companies prefer to have toll-free numbers to deal with customers, but the choice varies from case to case and it’s something you’ll want to evaluate. In any case a Google fax number is a powerful tool that will add speed to your communications and will help you save money.
What Types of Numbers Can I Choose?
Currently, online fax services offer these types of numbers:
- Local numbers
- Toll-free numbers
- Vanity numbers
Local and toll-free numbers are easy to get at the moment of signing up with an account, just select them from the drop-down list. If you need a vanity number it’s better to speak to a representative since they can get you set up in no time.
Are These Numbers Different From “Normal” Ones?
No, the number will look exactly the same as a common number and is reachable by fax machines. When someone dials this number it will automatically put the tone to receive faxes.
The difference lies in what happens “behind the scenes”. Instead of data traveling via a physical line, it goes through a digital one by using Fax Over Internet Protocol or FOIP.
Keep Using Your Current Fax Number
There are times when a new fax phone isn’t what you are looking for. This is especially true in established businesses that want to make the jump to digital faxing, but have already a known number for incoming faxes. Having a new number just makes matters more problematic since you have to update your contact information across multiple channels.
The solution comes with a process called “number porting”. Simply put, it will turn your current fax line into a digital one, able to receive faxes on the Internet. The process can take up to a week though, and during those days you will be given a temporary fax number (local or toll free) which will stay active for a full month, more than enough time to make sure the porting process has been completed without inconveniences.
If you plan to port your current fax number, make sure you choose a respectable email fax company. It may cost a bit more than other alternatives, but you can rest assured they have the necessary team to make porting faster and more effective.
Link Your Number to Multiple Gmail Addresses
You don’t have to get a dedicated line for faxing for every email that needs faxing capabilities. Most Fax Over IP services allow you to link up to 5 different email addresses to a single virtual number. This is a useful feature that comes in very handy when more than one people is in charge of sending and receiving faxes, and lets you save time that you’d otherwise spend forwarding every incoming document. This feature is optional, of course, you can set faxes to be received by just one person.
This process is automatic, and despite delivering the fax to multiple recipients it does so without spending extra time.