Easiest way to combine fax machine and eFax service under one phone number?

kellysteevens
kellysteevens used Ask the Experts™
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I have been struggling with this problem for over a year, so I thought I would ask here.

Our organization:
-10 Employees
-Send/Receive 10 Faxes a Week
-VOIP for our phone system
-Several fax machines in the office
-We use a paid Gmail service for all email.
-We have a paperless office with a high-speed scanner and we try really hard not to use paper everyday.

Our needs:
I would love the ability to send a fax through email OR through the fax machine.
I would love it if all faxes received would only come through email (we store everything electronically).
Depending on the type of paperwork we have, sometime sending through the fax machine is easiest but if we have to scan the paperwork into our paperless system, then faxing through email is easier.  

Is there a way to pay for only one fax service/machine that does this for us?

Currently, to do our efaxing (sending and receiving) through email, we have to pay for one service.  But to do our faxing in the office on the fax machine, we have to pay for a separate VOIP number.  I was hoping to only pay for one service/machine and have only one fax phone number.

Any advice would be most helpful.  I just want the cheapest, most streamlined and simple solution for our (small) faxing needs.

Thank you!
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Sounds like the simplest solution is to do all of your faxing through efax and scanning documents to email or eFax.  Since eFax controls their own numbers i dont see how you could combine the eFax number with one of your physical fax machines.  I use eFax and scanning to email and have not used an actual fax machine in my business for several years.

Author

Commented:
The few times we've asked about tying the eFax number to the physical machine, we've been met with people scratching their heads.  How do we do this?

Author

Commented:
We use rapidfax.com and I just called again to ask and the CS guy said that to use a fax machine, it would have to be tied to a telephone line.

So it seems like there are 2 paths to take:
Find some type of fax machine that doesn't work with a telephone line (II had stumbled across a fax machine that worked with WiFi - it was a Sharp - but saw that it was discontinued)

Or make our own eFax service that that utilizes the fax machine line.  I'm wondering if there is software that would allow us to set up our own eFax service internally and then send the faxes out over the fax machine line.
Windows Server includes basic fax server functionality.  If you already have this in the office, you may be able to enable it and get things working well enough that way.  If you don't have Windows Server, there are many software packages that will do this sort of thing for you, but most of them are built for larger volumes, and therefore will probably be cost prohibitive.  What is the real problem with having the physical fax machine connected to a land line and using eFax?

If it is having two "fax numbers", you can set the fax banner number, I don't remember the exact name, to be the same as your eFax number, so that faxes sent from your physical machine appear to come from eFax number.  Obviously the transaction logs may show your local number, not the number at the top of the fax page.

Is it a problem with the cost of the VOIP number?  If so, then you may want to find a different VOIP provider.  VOIP.ms offered DIDs for less than $2 per month, with very low per minute charges: 1.5 cents to the US, IIRC.  They don't officially support faxing over VOIP, but I have found it to work quite well when I have had to do it.
@kellysteevens (The few times we've asked about tying the eFax number to the physical machine, we've been met with people scratching their heads.  How do we do this?)

I am not sure of the intended nature of this question, eFax numbers route to eFax's physical equipment, how would you anticipate using their number to route to your fax machine.  I am scratching my head too but only because i don't get how you would think this is posible.

Faxing is a way to send facsimiles of documents or other hard copy over a phone line, to send a document over wifi or the internet without a phone line is basically an EMAIL or other form of TCP (i.e. Internet protocol) based communication or file transfer such as FTP.

Author

Commented:
@moosesupport  :oD  I think I am fax-stupid.  I am using eFax as a general term meaning faxing without the use of a physical fax machine.  I guess my issue comes down to - how can I sometimes send a fax through a physical fax machine and sometimes send a fax through email and use only 1 service?  Is there a service or device that would allow this?

I apologize if everyone is understanding me and I keep asking the same question over and over.

I do understand I can tie the fax machine to a phone line but then we have to setup a phone line through AT&T and that's another bill and another service.  Currently, we have Fonality VOIP and our VOIP carrier said their lines do not work with fax machines (I apologize, I don't know enough about VOIP to really understand this).

@SterlingMcClung  It's not so much the cost of the service.  It's just having yet another service, another bill, and another payment to manage - all for a handful of faxes a month.  I'm just looking for the convenience of using the 2 faxes we already own.  We have two all-in-one printers now both having faxing capabilities and I'd love to hook them up, but I guess my only option is to then buy a service to manage it?
If you only want one bill, then I think that trying to get everything working with an efax provider will be the easier way to go for the amount of faxes you are talking about.  What kind of high speed scanner do you have?  Some of the offices I work with use photocopiers for this work and many of those have the ability to send a scanned document to an email recipient.  If you could setup the efax service's email address in the scanner to send the fax, this might be the best option.  Scan to the paperless software, if needed, then send email from client computer, or send email to efax service directly from scanner.

Either way, I don't think that it will be worth a separate POTS line to handle a few faxes a week.

As for faxing over VOIP, it comes down to the quality of lines that the provider, fonality in your case, uses.  The largest problem with trying to fax over VOIP is that VOIP uses methods to reduce network traffic that assume that the thing being transmitted is a person's voice.  Faxing assumes that it has a regular, or Plain Old Telephone System, line which does not make any of these compromises.  In the case of fonality, it may be possible to get things working, but you will have to know what you are doing as fonality won't help at all.

Author

Commented:
There wasn't really a solution but it did straighten out my line of thinking.  Thanks!

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