Fax From Internet: Sending Fax via Internet

Question: My job as a designer requires me to visit the factories where our products are made. My staff often faxes me sketches or other information that I need, but it’s a real hassle for me to be able to receive them. Is there any way to do this electronically?

Mobile Computing HelpDesk Answers:

You’re in luck. With today’s technology, you can easily get faxes wherever you are. All you need is a laptop computer.

A growing number of companies are offering this service, and the technology is improving all the time. At the moment, there are two ways to receive electronic faxes: by e-mail (as Adobe Acrobat PDF files) or via a special Web site. Both will make your life on the road much easier.

If you opt for a service in which you can send faxes by e-mail, you’ll need a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader on your laptop to open them. Because it’s such a widely-used program, Acrobat may already be installed on your system — if it isn’t, just download it from Adobe’s Web site [http://www.adobe.com] at no charge. When someone sends a fax to your number, the message is automatically converted to electronic format.

If you choose a service in which you can receive faxes through the Web, your messages will most likely be stored as TIFF files. The software necessary to download them comes free with your account. The company will notify you by e-mail when you have a fax waiting. To access it, just go to the company’s Web site and enter your user name and password. You can then view or download your message.

The price structures for electronic fax services do vary to some degree. Often, you’ll pay a flat monthly rate. Some companies charge a one-time setup fee. You can even get a toll-free fax number (for a higher monthly charge, of course). It pays to shop around for a rate that matches your usage pattern. If you think you’ll be a heavy user, don’t hesitate to ask about volume discount plans.

No matter what kind of electronic fax service you choose, it’s a win-win situation. You no longer have to waste your time at copy centers waiting for a fax to arrive. And since electronic fax services can handle more than one incoming message at a time, your colleagues at the office probably won’t get a busy signal.