There are three ways of receiving faxes into your personal computer:
Option 1 - Using a fax modem and fax software
This option requires you to install a hardware fax modem into your computer. Almost all modems are nowadays dual-function devices, and operate as data modems and as fax modems in one device. The fax modem fits into an internal slot of your PC and connects to your telephone line via a regular telephone cable.
Additionally, you will require fax software, which awaits incoming calls on your phone line, manages your faxes, etc. There is quite a variety of fax software available, among others: WinFax Pro, HotFax Message Center, and Communicate Deluxe.
Option 2 - Using a network fax server
This option is similar to option 1 in the sense that installation of hardware and software is required. However, the difference compared to option 1 is that only one hardware/software installation is required per network. This means that all users on a network canreceive faxes, without having anything installed on their personal computer. This arrangement is normally useful for office environments and not for home or SOHO requirements.
The main problem with receiving faxes ona network fax server is routing the inbound fax to the proper recipient. When a fax comes in on a phone line, the question arises "who in the office is this fax meant for"? There are different ways to answer this, but the only reliable one requires installation of multiple phone lines/numbers on the fax server, and allocating each line/number to a different user. This tends to become an expensive exercise.
Usually, a small piece of client software is needed on each computer, which needs to receive faxes. This is necessary toread the contentsof a fax and to manage the outbound fax queue. When a fax is received, this fax client contacted bythe fax server and receivesthe inbound faxdocument, along with information about itsarrival time, sender informationand other parameters. Providers of this type of software include Equisys Zetafax, ACCPAC FaxServe, and Captaris RightFax.
Option 3 - Using an internet fax service provider
Using this option, no installations of hardware or software are required. You simply sign up for a subscription with a provider, who will (1) allocate an inbound number for you, at which you can receive faxes.
For fax reception, anyfax received at the number allocated by the provider will be automatically forwarded to your email as an attachment.You will need a fax viewer to view these attachments, however, fax viewers are often installed by default on your operating system.