When running a small business in today's fast-paced environment, it's important to know what services you need and how they fit with your daily productivity. While faxing may not seem like the most technologically advanced method of sending and receiving information, there are businesses that still use it. Rather than owning, operating and maintaining a dedicated fax machine, there are services available online that move faxing from the analog world into the digital realm.
When picking out an online fax service, it's important to consider some key items. You want to know how many pages you can send in a given month, what kind of online storage options exist, how fast and securely faxes are transmitted, and how much it will cost.
After conducting extensive research and analysis, RingCentral is our 2019 pick for the overall best online fax solution for small businesses. To learn about our process and to see a comprehensive list of online faxing providers, see our best picks page.
Of the vendors we examined, RingCentral stood out as the best option for small businesses looking to adopt online faxing. The company's strong feature set, focus on security and flexible user count make it easy for business owners to tailor the service to fit their faxing needs.
In the world of online faxing, the method of sending and receiving faxes is largely the same from vendor to vendor. What sets each company and their offerings apart are the features they offer users. Of the companies we tested, RingCentral had the most robust range of features. Here's a sampling of what RingCentral has to offer:
- Accepted file types. When sending faxes, RingCentral supports most common file types, including PDFs, DOCs, and various image files and gives you the option of attaching a cover page. Faxes you send and receive are converted into PDFs for easy access.
- Accessibility. Both incoming and outgoing faxes can be accessed through a desktop computer, an email client or the company's iOS and Android apps. Additionally, RingCentral's fax service can integrate with many popular business programs, including the Windows Office suite, Dropbox and Google Drive.
- Notifications. You can set up the system to send email and SMS alerts to multiple individuals when faxes arrive. With proper access to the account, those users can then view any incoming faxes.
- Recipient groups. You can send a fax to multiple recipients at once by creating groups with up to 50 email addresses.
- Toll-free, local and vanity numbers. When setting up your account, you can choose from a list of free toll-free, local and vanity numbers. You can decide which numbers you use for incoming and outgoing messages, and customize how your identification information shows up on recipients' caller ID.
- International faxing. RingCentral offers international faxing, but costs vary, depending on the number of pages you send and the country your recipient is in.
- Fax storage. Up to 200 faxes can be stored indefinitely in an online account.
Before you sign up for a plan with RingCentral, you need to know how much faxing your business does each month, as each service tier supports a different volume of incoming and outgoing faxes. While most companies offer a free option for businesses that don't use the fax service too often, RingCentral does not currently offer such a choice. That being said, the lowest tier costs $12.99 a month with an annual plan, so it's not the priciest product on the market.
RingCentral's monthly plans are as follows:
- Fax 750: $12.99 per month with an annual subscription or $14.99 for a monthly subscription. This plan supports up to 750 pages, with a 5.9 cent charge per additional page.
- Fax 1,500: $17.99 per month with an annual subscription or $22.99 for a monthly subscription. This option supports up to 1,500 pages, with a 4.9 cent charge per additional page.
- Fax 2,500: $49.99 per month with an annual subscription or $59.99 for a monthly subscription. The plan supports up to 2,500 pages and has a 3.9 cent charge per additional page.
- Fax Unlimited: $39.99 per month with an annual subscription or $49.99 for a monthly subscription. The plan supports an unlimited number of pages per month.
The first three tiers come with one shared fax number, while the highest tier comes with two shared numbers. RingCentral also offers add-ons to their fax service, including additional fax numbers for $4.99 per month, and toll-free and vanity numbers for a one-time fee of $30.
In our conversations with RingCentral, we found the company's customer service representatives to be calm, courteous and friendly. Each question about the features, pricing structure, and other aspects of the service that we asked about, posing as a potential client, was met with a quick and clear answer.
Additional support is available through the company's community support forum, which has more than 4,000 discussion topics. RingCentral also offers a live chat support function and online support tickets.
For those who prefer speaking to an actual person, telephone support is available as well. It's important to note, however, that 24/7 phone support is only available with the Fax 1,500 plan and up. Users of the Fax 750 plan still receive phone support, but not 24/7 access. They can call for support between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Non-English support is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central European Time.
The biggest drawback of RingCentral is the lack of a low-volume option for small businesses that have minimal faxing needs. Many business owners send under 100 pages of faxes each month, so a base plan starting at 750 pages might be overkill. Still, given that the price is relatively affordable and the plan includes features that aren't always provided without an additional fee, it may still be the best option for businesses that won't get anywhere near the monthly page limit.
While RingCentral refers to its plans in terms of pages, it should also be noted that it really calculates its plans based on minutes. The company assumes that one page equals one minute, but this depends on your internet speed. In some cases, users might send five pages in one minute, while others send one page in five minutes. This results in an uneven pricing system. However, the company's representatives made no efforts to hide this fact from us – in fact, they were the ones who illuminated it for us.
Previous Best Picks
At Business News Daily, we are dedicated to finding the best products and services for small businesses. We know that your time is limited, and we invest hours into research and testing so you feel confident about our recommendations.
Each year we update our best picks. When we do, we investigate new changes and companies in the industry, and we thoroughly scrutinize products and services, both new and existing. Our process also involves revisiting companies previously selected as best picks to evaluate whether they truly are the best in their category.
In addition to our recommendations this year, to help you find the best overall online fax solution, below is a list of companies we previously selected as winners:
Ready to choose an online fax service? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage: