Some old fashioned guidelines about Fax

On January 25, 2006, in Tools, by

It’s funny…faxing is such old fashioned technology …but some firms just can’t live without it.  For my firm, we don’t use centralized fax, but for others, the fax solution that SBS provides is exactly perfect.  But the one thing I’ve noticed about faxing… is that “it’s the hardware, stupid” and while this white paper can tell you the “White paper way”, Danne “the LAN Man” on the SMBTN listserve has the “Been There, Done That” way:

He said….

  • Premium-grade EXTERNAL Modems are the RIGHT solution for SBS fax and dialup data applications, because they can be power-cycled when necessary – and it does become necessary for any modem to be cycled.  You don’t want to have to boot the entire server to accomplish that.  Plus, having meaningful modem status lights is VERY reassuring to you or anyone you ask to look at them for you over the phone and tell you what they see…
  • Multitech is a top name modem and communications gear manufacturer with US-based support services.
  • Multitech’s MT5600ZDX is a sure fire winner and costs about $100 wholesale.  Add more for the data cable, as it isn’t included.  SBS has drivers built-in for this modem; no disk needed!
  • For NOW, avoid the newer, cheaper MT5656ZDX-V at the lower cost of about $80 wholesale.  Needs a special driver and It has caused me nothing but fits on one SBS installation.  Maybe I’ll get that sorted out when time permits, but as soon as I replaced it with the recommended model, 99% of faxing issues disappeared.  And maybe I won’t even bother.
  • In SBS FAX Wizard, set your MT5600ZDX to auto-answer on 1 ring and ALWAYS daisy-chain your dedicated FAX telco line TO, then THROUGH the fax modem, terminating it at a physical fax machine (set for 4+ rings), for those times when the server is in some kind of maintenance mode, rebooting or ???down???.  Any time the client tells you they are dying because they can’t get any faxes, just have them slide the modem’s little black power switch OFF and the old fashioned fax machine will take over until the problem can be resolved.  (Faxes remain important for my Mortgage Banking, Construction, Produce Distribution and Naval Manufacturing clients… they still live by faxes, but fewer and fewer need them printed on paper. SharePoint’s Incoming Fax viewer is S W E E T !

Just a final comment from me…If you want to just play a bit and see how faxing works and have never done it before on a SBS box, grab a US Robotic External V Everything off of Ebay and set it up.  Brooktrouts are probably the premo…but the price tag for that ‘premo’ comes with that. The key is having an external modem that you can cycle on and off without rebooting the server.  But it seems like when you do get decent hardware, you end up not cycling that much anyway. 


2 Responses to Some old fashioned guidelines about Fax

  1. Devin says:

    I had issues on several SBS machines where USR modems, including the V Everything would not work. The machine would send a fax and in the middle of several sent pages cut out with an error about the remote system not responding in time…or something like that. I have since been using the Brooktrout (which is on the SBS2003 HCL) and have never had a problem since. I would only use Brooktrout now I feel it’s worth the extra cost.

    One other thing…add the Fax folder as an exclusion in antivirus programs (I think it was Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\Shared Fax)

  2. indy says:

    Ditto the Multitechs, and also the USR’s ditto the stay away from.

    We have 5 year old ZDX’s still running perfectly, we send/receive about 10,000 faxes a year on two of these puppys.