Product Reviews

Fax Magic

While it might not be quite replete with the number of features included with RightFAX, GFI FAXmaker measures up with simplicity of faxing administration and ease of use and installation. FAXmaker provides the same support for the fax boards that RightFAX and most other faxing applications do, except you’re required to download the correct driver from the company’s Web site at www.gfi.com. Installing the drivers is simple and can be done after you install FAXmaker.

Upon installation, FAXmaker installs several admin utilities in the Programs menu: Fax Server, Fax Server Configuration, Fax Server Monitor, and Queued Faxes.

Running the Fax Server utility starts the Fax server. Fax Server allows you to enter the Fax Server Configuration, which you can use to configure fax boards or faxing services on local and remote computers. It has a debug mode for troubleshooting any problems you might be having with a specific port. All debug information is written to a file, which you can view at your discretion. You can also configure the cover letters that are available to your users, how documents (such as Word and Excel) are converted for faxing, and dialing properties.

The Fax Server Monitor (see Figure 4) displays a quick overview of all the devices currently installed on all your local and remote fax servers. You can view any error and status messages for specified ports in the bottom view pane. Another nice feature available in this tool is the ability to restart a fax server remotely.

Figure 4. Besides using FAXmaker's Remote FAX Server Monitor to view devices, you can use it to restart stopped faxing services.

As with the other fax applications, FAXmaker lets you view faxes that are queued to be sent through the Queued Faxes admin utility. Once faxes are sent to the fax server, you can view and modify the faxes on that server. You can use the utility to set priorities, modify cover pages, and change fax resolution.

One of FAXmaker’s strengths is its integration with Exchange Server. It does this using an Exchange Connector. FAXmaker leverages existing Exchange mailboxes (and, therefore, Windows NT accounts) by allowing you to specify which mailbox is allowed to send and receive faxes.

Sending a fax from Microsoft Outlook is just as easy. Simply create a contact with a business fax number, create a mail message, and click on Send. The message is then routed to the Exchange server, which then passes it to the FAXmaker Exchange Connector, to be rendered into a fax and sent. With other applications you can print to a FAXmaker printer which will, once again, send the fax to the desired recipients.

There’s a slight variation in how FAXmaker works with Microsoft Word. FAXmaker ships with two Word macros. The Send to FAXmaker macro sends to a designated recipient. If the Word macro doesn’t find the destination fax number in the document, a dialog appears, asking you for more information. The Send Mail Merge to FAXmaker macro uses Word’s mail merge to send faxes to a number of recipients.

FAXmaker includes a basic, yet handy client application, which you install from the FAXmaker\client directory (see Figure 5). Using this application, users can choose one or more fax recipients, create attachments from applications such as Word and Excel, and choose a cover page.

Figure 5. From the FAXmaker client, users can create faxes with attachments from applications like Word or Excel.

While FAXmaker might not come with as many “bells and whistles” as RightFAX, it definitely is worth consideration when you evaluate fax servers. If the features you desire are available in FAXmaker, its price point will make it easier for you to choose it over some of its competitors. The documentation comes on the CD and the company’s technical support is excellent.

About the Author

Barry Shilmover, MCSE+I, MCT, owns Shilmover Consulting Services, a Microsoft Solution Provider specializing in Windows NT/2000 and Exchange 5.5/2000 solutions. He has co-authored books that include Windows 2000 System Administrator’s Black Book and Exchange 5.5 Exam Cram, both from Coriolis Press.

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