Fax Problems
July 28, 2008 11:51 AM   Subscribe

How can I get my office's computer fax machine to receive faxes more reliably?

My office has been having trouble with junk fax messages, so my boss decided he wanted me to install a fax modem on one of the computers, and have it receive faxes while the existing fax machine would send faxes (it's easier for the administrative assistant to use) and pick them up should the computer be down (it's an always on machine, as it does some other maintenance things on the network). The way I achieved this: I set up a splitter from the fax line and sent one line to the computer and one line to the machine. I used the default Windows XP fax software and set it up to receive faxes after 2 rings, and set the fax machine to pick up after 4 rings. That way, the computer gets the call by default.

What has been happening, though, is that some of the longer faxes are cut off early. The modem was bought from Newegg - it's listed as "ENCORE ENF656-ESW-NDPR 56Kbps PCI Bus (Plug & Play) Fax Modem - Retail". It was cheap and a brand I never heard of, but it was my impression that's how it is with near-obsolete technologies like 56K modems, and the ratings were good. The phone cords are short, so I don't think it's an issue of signal degradation, and the dedicated fax machine has never had any problems. Is this a software problem, and if so, what fax software would you recommend? Or should I have picked a different modem? I imagine the people on Newegg are reviewing it based on its performance for internet browsing. It's a V.92 modem.

I know there are fax-over-email services which would eliminate headaches, but I don't want to go that route, as my boss already pays for a dedicated fax line, has bought a fax machine, and just paid for the modem (although that was just around $10). I would hate to tell him he needs to change his fax number and pay a monthly fee just to avoid junk faxes.
posted by mccarty.tim to Technology (5 answers total)
Here's what you do.

1. Check the manufacturer's website for any driver updates. If they are there then install them.

2. To figure out if it is a software or hardware problem, first try different software. Does this give you the same results?

3. Try again but this time unplug the other fax machine from the line. Perhaps two machines on the same line is causing some issue.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:02 PM on July 28, 2008

Driver here btw.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:04 PM on July 28, 2008

We had a similar problem in our office. It turned out to be that the fax machine, although set not to answer unless the computer fails to answer, still listens to the line. When it hears those telltale fax noises, it attempts to take over the fax reception, because it thinks it's being helpful for those situations where a fax machine is also used as a regular telephone.

At that point, it's anybody's guess whether the fax will end up on the PC, on the physical machine, or just vanish into the ether.

We set the fax machine to Manual Only mode and so far so good--that way it doesn't "listen" for tones at all unless you press the "FAX RECEIVE" button. We can still use it to send faxes without difficulty.

It pains me that faxing is still an issue in 2008 but them's the breaks.
posted by bcwinters at 2:42 PM on July 28, 2008

As far as your junk faxes are concerned, have you asked an attorney to handle it for you? A lot of law firms take these cases on a contingency basis (nothing out of pocket for you) because there are federal and state laws that prohibit fax spam.
posted by abdulf at 3:04 PM on July 28, 2008

It might be a bad line that occassionally gets too much noise and breaks off and so would have more chances to break off during long faxes. Try turning down the speed of the fax... to 9600bps... if that doesn't work then 7200bps... 4800bps...
posted by holloway at 3:14 PM on July 28, 2008

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