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Fax Server Hardware

Posted on 2004-10-04
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We are setting up a fax server here. We are going to use Microsoft Shared Fax, bundled with SBS 2000. As of right now, the server has no fax modems installed. I was looking around the net, seeing what kinds of hardware makers of Fax Server software recommend.

One brand that seemed to always make an appearance was Brooktrout. http://www.brooktrout.com/

The thing is, thier basic single-port TruFax 100 fax card costs nearly $400!! Why in the world would I spend that much money on a fax modem when I can just buy a US Robotics Fax card for $30!?

Hopefully somebody can explain this to me, because even on their website they are kind of vague as to why I should be buying a fax modem from them instead of US Robotics.
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Question by:DVation191
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by:Wakeup
Wakeup earned 100 total points
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Basically what you'd be paying for is for a high end fax card.  Sounds like basically this:

Adaptive Call Progress Algorithms to ensure high connectivity rates.....

So who cares?  unless you are receiving high amounts of faxes that need to be fast and quick....but if the other end that is faxing to you or you are faxing to, does not use the same technology, it is their end that will be the bottleneck.  

So in my opinion the 350 bux more you spend on one, is not really that worth it.  

http://www.unifiedsolutions.com/pdf/faxvoice/TruFax_Series_7-03.pdf
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samccarthy earned 300 total points
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I use USR's in my fax servers and have never had any problems.  They are the generic, 56k type.
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by:samccarthy
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By the way, USR makes some of the best fax modems out there and you will be limited by the speed and how solid of a connection you get.  As long as it converts it and is efficient at sending it over the wire, which the USR's are, I would save the extra money.
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by:DVation191
ID: 12225511
"Adaptive Call Progress Algorithms to ensure high connectivity rates" ... yet the Brooktrout TruFax is aimed at small to medium sized businesses with low volume faxes...go figure.

If I was to use regular faxmodems in my server,  it would be USR, so I'm glad to hear they are working well for somebody else.

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by:kemp_a
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Well, it ultimately depends on what you want to achieve with your Fax server! I appreciate that the single port analog board does sound expensive. The benefits are undoubtably that the board is able to complete the fax transmission in the event that the line is of a very bad quality or drops out.

Numerous poeple complain about their Fax servers dropping the connection, in which case the Fax server discards the incoming fax because its not complete. This happens more often than most realise, and is due to lots of issues, including people with cheap or older model fax machines as well as bad lines.

If you are sharing the Fax server in an office environment, you will probably want to guarantee that your Fax server is functioning with little intervention and few lost transmissions then you will probably pay for a dedicated Fax board.

Also, depending on your requirements the multi channel BRI fax boards allow you to have numerous numbers associated with the same card, this is called DDI, and the board & the Fax server software work in concert to allow automated fax routing, simultaneous transmissions etc etc etc
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by:DVation191
ID: 12237201
What do I want to achieve? I want to be able to send and recieve faxes for an office of about 50 people. Low volume fax throughput.

So why is it that a $50 USR Faxmodem will drop an established fax connection and a $500 card won;t?
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by:kemp_a
kemp_a earned 100 total points
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I couldn't agree with you more, and this is perhaps the most controversial of all fax transmission issues! The organisation I work for considers  fax 'ing a low volume, low priority issue also!

I am currently in the process of introducing a 'Fax Server' to that organisation, its head count at HQ is about 100 people, but we have another 85 or so sites (with roughly another 2-3 people at each site). Half of these sites are local call rates, back to HQ, the rest long distance (and I have also proposed a VoIP solution to reduce the cost of long distance call rates between offices, which is up for review by the board). I estimate. from the data I have been able to gather on both the number of faxes and the direct and indirect costs associated with each fax that our antiquated fax/document management processes and call charges impose) that with a Fax server we are able to reduce our operating costs by at least 30% for outbound fax transmission only (A saving of roughly $10k per annum)!  

These figures are easily quantifiable, inbound transmissions are not so quantifiable because it depends on how you want your customers & partners to communicate with your! Indeed I estimate that this probably account for more than 70% of delivery of the faxes our organisation (which will be a boon if I can enable auto fax routing/deliery of inbound faxes which is what I intend to do!).

Hence, If I am able to get the organisations trust in the delivery of outbound fax transmission, then they will be more receptive to the idea of auto-routed inbound transmissions. I estimate savings in operating expenses in the range of $20-$45K per annum.

As a percantage of that, the expense for $50 analogue fax modem is miniscule ($50/$45000=$0.001c which is in three or more orders of magnitude than our depreciation on current equipment), but if it isn't able to accomodate the organisations needs, or if it drops transmissions, and hence the entire fax image (where as a normal paper based fax would actually show me what has been received prior to the transmission ending) I am not going to realise my estimates because a) we are not going to know what was being faxed to us, and b) the organisation isn't going to trust that the new fan dangled technology meets their needs.

Likewise the expense of the $400 (even a $4000 ISDN 4 port DDI enabled card) that increases the probability that a fax will not be dropped, when calculated against not only my outbound savings, but my inbound increase in productivity, I am more than happy to spend the extra couple of hundred bucks!

Like anything in the IT business, a single point of failure will totter you on the edge of disaster. Since most organisation do not have a continuity plan, disaster is hence predicted.  Think the way your Manager does, propose a solution that is both financially viable and technologically redundant!

Cheers
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by:Wakeup
Wakeup earned 100 total points
ID: 12239107
Buy the USRobotics....it's as cheap as $16.50
http://www.compuvest.com/Search.jsp?Search=USR5699B&sort=sell_price&advsite=grabber

IF it doesnt do what you want.....not much lost.  But if you spend the $350-400 bux, for the other....and it's much more than you need...well...you spent that and won't be getting that back unless you find a place that has a good return policy....

So............That's my two cents.

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by:DVation191
ID: 12251269
I'll be putting the modems in on Wednesday. I'll report back with how it's going.
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by:Wakeup
ID: 12254382
Great, which one/ones did you go with?
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by:DVation191
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by:samccarthy
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I think you'll be happy with them.  They've worked great for my installations.
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by:DVation191
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Sorry guys, the server downtime has been postponed until next month by request of management. I haven't forgotten the question and I will return as soon as I get it installed.
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by:DVation191
ID: 12524130
I got the hardware installed and everything is working great. Thanks guys.
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