Photo of Paul Rydell
What is a fax modem

A Quick & Helpful Guide to Fax Modems

What is a fax modem

Despite other methods of transmitting data rising in popularity and usage, the mighty fax modem is still frequently used to send and receive documents.

What is a fax modem?

A fax modem is an accessory for a computer that allows you to transmit and receive data via a phone line. This device can be used to establish a dial up connection to the internet, or to send faxes via a dial up connection.

Furthermore, fax modems may be located inside your computer, or be attached via an external port. Faxes sent via fax modems may be printed at a fax machine, or received using a fax software package or app.

Where can I buy a fax modem?

The best option for purchasing fax modems is online. There are several sites that sell these. A simple search on Amazon or other online marketplace should help you find the correct device. You may also be able to find some models in retail office stores, or electronics specialty stores.

What else do I need to send and receive faxes by computer?

You have a couple of options available to you.

First, it should be noted that if you subscribe to an online fax service such as FaxBurner, fax modems are not necessary. Instead, you would simply use your high speed internet connection, log in to the online service or app, and send and receive documents via the software.

If you choose to use a modem and a fax machine, however, you will need windows fax software, and a dedicated phone line. You’ll need a landline as VoIP doesn’t work with standard fax modems.

Is an internal or external fax/modem better?

An external modem is connected to your computer or laptop through a USB or other port. This is used to provide the connection to the phone line. These tend to be easier to install because you simply plug in and go. The downside is that the external modem is an additional piece of equipment that needs to be purchased and maintained.

An internal modem may come with your computer. In that case, there’s no need to do anything, but plug the phone line into the computer, then into the fax.

If your computer doesn’t come with an internal modem, you’ll need to open your computer to install the fax card. You’ll have to consult your manual for information on how to accomplish this. Please be aware that this can impact your warranty if you have one. However, if this option is available, you won’t have to worry about having another external device to contend with.

How do fax modems work?

You’ve probably heard that familiar series of chirps and beeps when you send a fax. That’s actually data being sent via audio signal. The fax modem takes the information from the document and turns it into sound on the sender’s side.

Then, it translates that sound back into data on the receiver’s side. Fax modems can communicate with other fax modems as well as fax machines. The receiver then gets their copy of the documents.

Why do people still need a fax modem?

A fax modem is generally used when there is a dial up internet connection, and to replace a standard fax machine. There are still businesses that aren’t connected to high speed internet, and rely on machines like this.

How much foes a fax modem cost?

The price depends on whether the modem is internal or external, and the features it provides. You can expect to spend between $15 And $40 on a fax modem. There may also be labor charges if you need to have it installed by a professional.

Is my fax modem compatible with my computer?

Compatibility is definitely a matter of concern. There are many operating systems for Windows, Apple, and Linux devices. While there are several compatible devices for Windows, there are none compatible for Apple since OS X 10.7. With Linux, it depends on the specific version.

Please be certain that your device will work with your computer before you make any purchases.

Summing it all up

Fax modems are still handy devices that add to your computer’s functionality. They’ll enable you to send and receive faxes using your computer, whether you’ve got one built in, or purchase an external one. It’s not especially expensive, though you’ll need a dedicated land line to go with it.

That is, of course, unless you forgo the modem entirely and use an online service instead. In that case, as long as you have an internet connection you can send and receive faxes from any computer or smartphone.