Good Online Fax Service That Works Both Ways?
October 16, 2007 5:30 AM   Subscribe

It's hell being the rage, so I am trying to centralize and virtual-office-ify my scattered work life. E-mail and voicemail is easy enough to virtualize, but is there a good birectional online fax system? [much more inside]

I have a number of different long-term jobs and gigs (a partner here, a shareholder there, a consultant in the other place) and I travel a lot as a result. (I like this.) I now have a couple of additional opportunities to jump on in the next year. It's all above-board (all employers know about the others, I'm "special" enough to be worth the extra effort on their part, there no conflicts as they're all different industries), but the sheer complexity of the communications tree threatens to overwhelm my already creaky personal infostructure.

Every business day, I get phone calls, SMSs, faxes, voicemails and e-mails to a number of different addresses/numbers, and I need to be reachable under all these different hats, and be able to respond from the same or an appropriate/neutral channel. And, of course, I'm very mobile so all this needs to be virtual. I have three (modest) home-based offices in different countries, spend significant time in two other countries, and the remainder of my time is all about airports, hotels and internet cafes.

E-mail is easy to handle, as y'all will probably realize. SMS similarly (route it as e-mail). Phone and VM is a bit of a mess now, but I'm confident that between Skype, Vonage, GrandCentral etc I can get the phones and voicemails working well enough. Hell, I can build a home-based Asterisk box if necessary.

My problem is with faxes. A lot of time is burned right now having assistants run around scanning and mailing or re-sending faxes that come to any of these numbers. I've even driven across town just to get a damn piece of paper off a machine. Similarly, I go through hell when I need to SEND a fax from a certain number, or at least a neutral one. I can't send faxes re Genco Pura Olive Oil (employer #1) from a fax machine for Fremulon Insurance (#2), for example, both for image reasons and because it'd cause a snakepit of response mixups. A fax from Kinko's also looks bad.

Long story short (too late), does anyone know of a good online bidirectional fax service that will send scanned faxes (I don't need OCR) to any e-mail address and also allow fax-out (gateway) service that shows the "correct" or controllable (paid-for) fax-from and caller-ID number? I do not mind buying multiple "accounts" or numbers for this. I just want the results centralized so I can get faxes from several numbers and send them "from" several numbers all from my own MacBook, no matter where I happen to be today.

Advice on the voicemail part is also welcome, but as I said I'm less worried about that than the faxing.
posted by rokusan to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite will do this
posted by zeoslap at 6:13 AM on October 16, 2007

posted by doomtop at 6:46 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

I use send2fax.
posted by bigmusic at 6:53 AM on October 16, 2007

faxthruemail (thru godaddy) will do this too. you'll have to buy a few numbers, but you said that wasn't a problem.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:41 AM on October 16, 2007

I use MaxEMail-- it's cheap and I love it. I haven't looked closely at the Fax-from numbers it inserts -- so it's worth checking that out...

Whatever service you use, check out PageSender for the Mac. It creates a virtual printer that lets you fax [via these e-fax programs] from any application -- it's as easy as printing. Double-check to make sure it works with whatever service you plan to use, though.
posted by rdn at 8:00 AM on October 16, 2007

I use GreenFax.
posted by JohnYaYa at 8:58 AM on October 16, 2007

Seconding MyFax. It's the best I've used, hands down, and has never made me hate it, whereas efax seemed to bend over backwards to do just that.

I can't tell if they have multiple fax numbers for receiving/sending on a single account, but since you're ok with multiple accounts, you can definitely consolidate them all via email (both sending and receiving), though you may have to do some kludgework.
posted by averyoldworld at 11:56 AM on October 16, 2007

How about GotVmail?

I'm sure you love grandcentral, but for $10/month you get your own personal phone system with routing and emailed messages with fax service.
posted by wile e at 4:50 PM on October 16, 2007

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