How To: Set Up a Fax Number
by: Koby Wong | ChooseWhat.com
Faxing is an important communication tool even in today’s high tech business operations.
Faxing lets you easily exchange forms, documents, and contracts with customers and clients.
Setting up a fax number for your business will help you communicate effectively and efficiently. The two primary methods of faxing are:
- Online fax service - Allows you to send and receive faxes over the Internet through a website or directly through your email
- Traditional fax machine - Allows you to send and receive faxes through your telephone line.
Which type of Fax Service is right for you?
In most cases, we recommend setting up an online fax service. It’s a less expensive investment (an online fax service is typically cheaper than paying for a phone line and buying the machine itself), there’s no hardware to manage, and it’s typically more convenient to use. For a detailed comparison between fax machines and online fax services, read our STARTicle: Traditional Fax Machine vs. Online Fax Service
Before you set up a fax number, you should:
Have access to a computer and reliable Internet connection (Our recommended option, online fax service, works by sending and receiving faxes online.)
Online Fax Service
We recommend an online fax service over a traditional fax machine because it it less expensive and more convenient than purchasing a fax machine and a dedicated fax line. There are dozens of online fax services on the market. While pricing and the frequency with which you fax documents will be primary drivers in determining which online fax service you choose, the type of fax number you obtain will be the key factor in your decision.
There are several options available when it comes to deciding on a fax number, and if you choose wisely it will make your experience as efficient and painless as possible. Here are the most common fax number choices and the advantages of each one:
Local Fax Number
If you want your fax number to have the same area code as your business phone number, choose a local fax number. This is ideal for businesses operating primarily in a specific geographic area such as retailers and restaurants. When picking a local fax number, make sure you decide on a fax number based on the associated city name and not just the area code. Many cities and suburbs use the same area code, and if you consider only the area code it's possible that your main business phone number and fax number could potentially be assigned to different cities. For example, Austin and suburb Georgetown both have a 512 area code. If you operate your business in Austin and have a Georgetown 512 fax number, people in Austin will likely try to fax you without first dialing 512, which won't work.
Tip: Most of the providers listed on our Online Fax Comparison and Review section will detail the area code and cities available in their features.
Toll-Free Fax Number
If you expect to receive faxes from a wide range of area codes and don't want the people who are sending you faxes to incur long distance charges, choose a toll-free fax number. You might also want a toll-free fax number if you live in a small town and can't find a provider with your local area code available. It should be noted that some online fax services charge an additional fee for toll-free numbers.
Your Current Number
If you already have an existing number you want to use as your fax line, you can use that number with your online fax provider by porting the number into the service. There is typically a charge to port your number into an online fax service, as well as a charge to port your number out if you cancel or change providers. Typically, you can only port out numbers you have ported in. For more on porting numbers, read our STARTicle: How to Port Your Existing Fax Number to an Online Fax Service.
We've been researching and testing online fax services since 2007. Our reviews are the best and most comprehensive in the industry.
>> Compare providers, read reviews and sign up for an online fax service that fits your needs.
- Look at monthly fees compared to the number of pages included. Any plan that’s better than $10 per month for 300 pages is typically a good deal.
- Sign up for an annual plan to receive the lowest pricing.
- See if you can sign up for a free trial of the service. Most providers offer free trials.
- If you need an online fax service that is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, please see our forum post that lists HIPAA compliant vendors. (if you don’t know what this is, you probably don’t need it.)
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