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How Does Online Faxing Work?

Online faxing is more popular today than ever before. Online faxing replaces your office’s traditional fax machine with your email inbox.

Instead of walking over to your fax machine, typing in a contact’s number, and then feeding a piece of paper through the machine, you can simply send an email to create a fax.

Sound simple? It is! Today, I’m going to explain how online faxing works.

How Does Traditional Faxing Work?

To understand online faxing, you first need to understand how traditional faxing works. Traditional faxing uses phone lines to send bits of binary code.

The sending fax machine scans a document and transfers the data on the page, line by line, into binary code. Then, it sends that code through the phone lines. The receiving fax machine receives the binary code and reproduces a ‘facsimile’ of the original document. That’s where the word ‘fax’ comes from.

Traditional faxing has existed since the mid-1800s. Today, faxing is far from dead and remains an important part of the business world. However, the way in which we fax has changed considerably.

Why Online Faxing Is Different

Traditional fax uses phone lines to send data. Online faxing uses the internet. Instead of sending bits of code down the phone line, online faxing sends images of the document over the internet.

In order to online fax, you need an online fax provider. Your online fax provider – like Nextiva, MyFax, or RingCentral – converts all sent and received faxes into digital format.

To send a fax online, you simply use your email inbox. You create an email and upload the document you’re trying to fax as an attachment. In the contact field, you write the following:


In this example, ‘123-456-7890’ is the number of your contact, while ‘YourFaxProvider.com’ is whichever virtual fax provider you signed up for. You simply type that contact into the ‘Contact’ or ‘To’ field, attach the document you’re trying to fax, and click ‘Send’.

Once you click ‘Send’, the magic starts to happen. In less than a second, your online fax provider receives the message and converts the attachment into faxable format. Once the attachment has been converted, it’s sent to your recipient via a traditional phone line.

On the receiving end, a similar process takes place. Your online fax service intercepts any incoming fax messages and decodes them into digital format. Then, it converts those faxes into emails with attachments and sends them into your email inbox.

Still confused? I’m going to break online faxing down into a few simple steps:

Sending A Fax Online:

  1. Create an email
  2. Type in your contact’s fax number @ ‘Your Fax Provider’s Website Goes here.com’
  3. Attach the document or documents you wish to fax to that email
  4. Click send
  5. Your online fax service receives the fax, converts it into binary format, and sends it down the phone lines to your recipient.

Receiving A Fax Online:

  1. The sender sends a fax through the phone lines using a traditional fax machine
  2. Your fax service receives the fax through its virtual fax machine servers
  3. Your fax service converts the fax into digital format and creates an email attachment
  4. Your fax service sends that email to your inbox

Important Things To Know About The Online Faxing Process

No busy signals: When people try to send you a fax over a traditional faxing system, they’ll receive a busy signal when multiple people are faxing that number simultaneously. With online faxing, that doesn’t happen. Online fax providers receive incoming faxes on multiple servers, so even if you receive a bunch of faxes at the exact same time, your fax provider will distribute those faxes across multiple servers.

Multiple acceptable file formats: One of the most annoying parts of traditional faxing is printing off a document, editing it, then sending it over the fax line. With online faxing, you rarely have to worry about file formats or file types. Today’s top online fax providers accept dozens of file types, including popular extensions like PDFs, DOCs, DocX, JPGs, and much more. This takes a lot of hassle out of the faxing process.

You can setup an online fax service for yourself at home: When you subscribe to an online fax provider, you may think that the service has a wall of fax machines waiting for its customers to use. That’s not true. Instead, online fax providers create virtual fax machines via online servers. Sound complicated? It’s not – really. In fact, all Windows computers come with a built-in fax function. All you need to access that function is a phone line connected to your PC. Simply plug a phone line into your PC tower or laptop or buy an adapter. Run the fax setup wizard and you’re good to go.

Sometimes, online faxing seems like rocket science, but it’s a relatively simple procedure.

About Johnson Hur

After having graduated with a degree in Finance and working for a Fortune 500 company for several years, Johnson decided to follow his passion by embarking on a path to the digital world. He has over 8 years of experience with large companies setting marketing strategy.

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