If you have a lot of faxes coming in and out of your office, you’ve likely dealt with some of these problems: paper jams, constant ringing, and an endless queue of employees at the machine.
Though faxing may seem like a technology of the 1980s, a lot of businesses still need to fax documents. Businesses that deal with contracts and signed documents are one example of frequent fax users. E-mail may be the transfer method of choice these days, yet somehow the fax has endured. So, if you’re a fax user, you might as well be a savvy one and take advantage of the conveniences of modern technology — the fax server.
This is a server that is equipped with fax software and is attached to both a fax-capable modem and a telephone line; modem software that allows you to send faxes over the Internet may also be installed.
How It Works
A fax server receives documents from users on your network, converts them to faxes, and then sends them over the telephone line or Internet. It also receives incoming faxes, stores them, and sends them along to individual users. Users on your network can send documents to the fax server in a couple of ways. They can e-mail them to the server or use a Web interface to upload the document to the server. Uploading faxes through a Web interface requires special client software, but most fax software programs are not overly expensive.
To receive incoming faxes, the fax software can send users an e-mail with their fax document attached as a PDF file. Alternatively, users can regularly check the file directory where the faxes are stored on the server, or they can use client software to log in through a Web interface and view the received documents.
Fax Server Advantages
There are several advantages to a fax server setup. The first and most obvious is that employees don’t have to leave their desks to fax; they can simply send and receive from their workstations. Secondly, fax servers can handle a good deal of fax traffic by storing and queuing up the documents that need to be sent. The server will send the faxes in the order in which it receives them.
Another key advantage: Because they are transmitted in digital form, documents don’t have to be printed before they are faxed. This saves both paper and printer ink. What’s more, incoming faxes can be printed on a standard printer, offering more readability than documents printed on a fax machine.
Faxes More Easily Stored
Fax servers also make life easier for office managers who want to make sure the company follows government data retention rules. Since all faxes are stored in an electronic file, they can be easily viewed and backed up. There is also a greater sense of transparency since managers can see which documents flow in and out of the server.
For larger companies, these management advantages can be a key selling point for fax servers. Larger companies with multiple fax machines can also cut down on telephone lines with the Fax over Internet Protocol (FoIP) technology.
The good news is that smaller companies can still reap the benefits of a fax server, even if you cannot afford to invest in a dedicated server. You can install software and a fax modem on a server that does multiple tasks.
Whether your company is large or small, it’s worth considering the advantages of a fax server. After all, the fax has come a long way since we began buying those huge, beeping machines in the eighties.
For more information on servers, be sure to read Is It Time to Invest in a Network Server?
Scarlet Pruitt is a freelance writer and business consultant based in San Francisco. She has covered business and technology for publications in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America.