How to use a fax server

Last Update: August 9th, 2021

A fax server can be a great way for an enterprise organization to manage their fax activity from a central location.

Compared with an online fax service (or online fax server) a fax server is operated within an enterprise, while an online fax service is a type of fax server run by a hosting company.

What is a fax server used for?

A fax server can be used for a number of things.

In many enterprise environments, it is a to centralize fax to one area. It can replace many different fax machines (and fax lines) across an organization to one central location that can be accessed over the internet.

An online fax service is a type of fax server. It would be better called a “cloud fax.” Everyday users (or an organization) can subscribe to a fax service and have access to many features in a fax server.

A fax server can also be used as a type of fax software with extra features. Companies that provide fax marketing or fax blasts often use fax servers for the work they do. These fax servers are often configured with lots of extra fax lines and can attempt to fax to many different fax numbers at the same time or in sequence.

How is a fax server different from a computer with fax software?

The two are very similar.

A computer with fax software isolates faxing just to that computer. It can send and receive faxes, but needs to have a fax modem and be connected to a phone line.

How is a fax server different from an online fax service?

An online fax service is hosted by a company that specializes in running a fax server on behalf of their clients. A better name for an online fax service would be a “cloud fax,” however these services were in place well before the term “cloud” entered the world of technology.

A fax server is run within the organization. Even if there is an outsourced provider running the server on behalf of the organization, the server is only meant for that organization.

Setting up a fax server – What you’ll need

  • A computer to run the fax server software.
  • A fax modem (either usb or internal) attached to the fax server.
  • A traditional landline phone line.
  • A telephone cord (to connect the fax modem to the fax line).
  • Fax server software. Microsoft Server includes fax software, and there are 3rd party packages for both Windows and Linux.
  • A computer to act as a client to connect to the fax server (optional).

Fax server software

There are a number of different fax server software packages on the market.

Windows server includes a fax server package. Regular Windows software for desktops and laptops includes a client program (Windows Fax and Scan) that can connect to the Windows server instance.

For Linux, Hylafax and Hylafax++ are both examples of open source software packages that work on a Linux device.

How to set up the fax server

Each software package is different. This section provides a generic approach to how most fax software is installed and configured.

Step 1 – Assemble the computer that will act as the server.

Step 2 – Attach and install the fax modem to the computer. Some fax modems are internal, others are external and connect with USB.

Step 3 – Attach the fax modem to the phone line using the telephone card. You will need to use a landline phone line (not VoIP). If you are using an electronic method of fax (such as FoIP, SIP, or faxing through a VoIP gateway) we recommend minimizing the number of conversions between analog and digital.

Step 4 – Install the fax server software and configure as detailed in the instructions.