Online Fax Glossary

If you’re looking to jump into online faxing, you might encounter some jargon that can be confusing. This glossary will shed some light on the terms and what they mean in the context of choosing the right service for you.

Online Faxing Options

Send Faxes By Email:

While all online fax service providers allow you to receive faxes in your email inbox, some don’t allow you to send them from your email. This feature indicates that the provider does offer the option of sending faxes directly from your email rather than through an online interface.

HIPAA Compliance:

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and it requires health care providers to protect the confidentiality of patient health information. Online fax service providers that are HIPAA-compliant typically include features like encryption, user authentication, and physical security at server sites. Also, if you specify to your HIPAA compliant provider that you need the service to be HIPAA compliant, they will disable the feature that sends the faxes directly to your email. You will instead receive a notification stating that you have received a fax, but you will have to login into the online interface or smartphone app to actually view the fax.


An electronic signature is simply your signature, captured in an electronic format. It is considered legally valid, and can make it possible to go truly paperless – with an e-signature, you don’t have to print, sign, and scan a document. When online fax services list this as a feature, it means you can drag and place your signature stamp into a document.

Smartphone Apps:

When online fax service providers offer smartphone apps, it cuts out an extra step in the faxing process. Instead of logging into your email or going through a browser to send and receive faxes, apps let you manage faxes from the app, or take a photo of your document with your smartphone and send. Some fax services have mobile friendly or smartphone optimized websites, but that isn’t the same as offering a dedicated smartphone app.

Fax Number Porting:

This applies to customers who may already have an existing fax number, and want to keep it. Porting means transferring your fax number from one service to another, so a provider that offers this will let you port that number into their service. One thing to remember is that online fax providers aren’t required to allow you to keep the number that they’ve assinged you, if you originally received that number from them and subsequently leave their service. Some providers will do this as a courtesy, but others will not. However, if you had the number before signing up with the online fax provider and ported it into the service, they are required to allow you to port it out when you leave.

Online Fax Storage:

Most online fax providers let you store copies of incoming and outgoing faxes on their websites. Many give you free storage for a certain period of time, and then either delete the faxes or begin charging. Free online fax storage typically ranges from 30 days to unlimited, depending on the provider. A small number of companies limit storage based on the number of documents stored rather than length of time. For example, RingCentral will allow you to store up to 200 documents indefinitely.

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