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FaxFacts fax software

Helpful tips and hints:

How many phone lines will I need?
We use as a rule of thumb 45 pages per phone line per hour, for a one page normal mode fax. Even though the fax may only take a minute or less to send, 45 pages per hour is closer to the actual time per line because of busy time, dial and ring time, adding to the time to send a fax. If you are going to be sending more than one page as part of the same fax you will see the number approach 60 pages per hour per line. Or if you are sending High Res faxes to get a better look, the number will drop to closer to 30 pages per hour per line.

How much disk space will I need?
The more the better. If you are using either Graphical Coversheet or mailmerge to fax, you will be creating two files per fax receiver. The TIFF file will be from 30,000 to 100,000 bytes and the control file will be about 300 bytes. If you have a large disk and the file system is FAT, not Novell, or NTFS, you will use more disk space than you expect.

With a FAT(File Allocation Table) file system which was the original MS-DOS file system, even small files may take 32,000 bytes. The problems is when you write a 300 byte file and a 40,000 byte TIFF file, the system will allocate 3 blocks of 32,000 bytes. While the DIR command shows 1000 300 byte files, you will see the amount of disk space go down by 1000 times 32,767 bytes.

On a Novell system the allocation block size is 4096 bytes per block if you are not compressing the file system. This is NOT due to FaxFacts except that this is one of the issues when you have lots of small files. We feel that the benefits of load sharing and speed overshadow the wasted space due to file allocation issues.

One of the best files systems for the FaxFacts system is the NTFS system that has a typical allocation size of 512 bytes. The 512 bytes is close to the actual size of the control files that we use.

Should I use a service bureau?
Service Bureaus provide a great service, if you wish to send lots of faxes. Copia loves our service bureau customers. By working with our large service bureaus, we have remove some of the brick walls that we hit at the 100 and 400-line system sizes. We currently have systems with more than 600 lines operating as a single blast faxing system. The advantage that service bureaus have over in-house systems is "bandwidth". If you have a fax that you want all 5000 receivers to get the fax within an hour, you will have to use a service bureau. You also get to have someone else worry about keeping the system running and working with the phone company.

But what you do not get is the increase in your telephone volume, and the ability to lower your overall telephone costs for both fax traffic and voice traffic. If you wish to have your fax broadcasting to go out at night on your companies phone lines that are not being used at night, you will have to have a system in-house. Once you have the system in-house, you can then use the system as your LAN fax server, so that your users on the LAN network can use the system to send faxes.

Another advantage is that you can now move the launching of fax blasts directly to the users that want to send the faxes. Most service bureaus do not have the ability to do a true mailmerge to fax. This is much easier to do in-house.

Smart Retries

As we at Copia have been working with different fax boards and customers, we have learned about how to get faxes through if possible, AND not try forever to deliver faxes to number that will never work. We started with specifying a number of retries and a time delay between tries. This is what many of the systems offer. The first problem that we saw that was not addressed by this design, was "self induced busy signals".

*** Does the system detect and prevent it's own busy signals? ***
A "Self induced busy" is when you have more than one person in or broadcast list at the same phone number. We had more than one phone line that was trying to send to the same fax number. When I looked into how other systems solved this problem, I found that they only were able to increase the number of retries to fix this problem.

What we have done is to prevent the problem in the first place. As each phone line selects a file to send a fax, it first checks to see if the phone number is in use by another phone line. If the phone line is being used by another fax line, then the file is skipped, and the retry count is not incremented.

*** Can the system restart in the middle of the fax? ***
After fixing the busy problem we have improved the sending of faxes with what we call "Smart Retries" The FaxFacts "Smart Retry" feature provides enhanced control over retrying failed outbound faxes. With this feature, you can specify that only the un-sent pages are retried if a transmission fails in the middle of a sequence of documents, and you can specify a different pattern of retries for different classes of failure.

A special cover sheet can also be specified for retry attempts. The entire system is table driven, so that you can modify the actions that the FaxFacts system takes for each and every failure status that is returned from the fax board system. You can choose to retry specific error codes or fail them and not retry more than once. One use of this feature is to have the fax be retried, if it is busy or ring no answer, after an 8 or 12 hour delay. This will allow faxes to be delivered to those fax machines that are out of paper or turned off in the evening.

*** Is the system automated? ***
Auto fax broadcast launch
The Copia FaxFacts system as always been focused on being able to have the system "run itself". One of the great features of Windows, is that it is visual, and graphical. The graphical nature of faxing is great for Windows and the mouse is great for working with fax images. The problem with the Windows/mouse interface is that it requires a human to move the mouse. In addition to the visual tools to launch and manage fax broadcasts, FaxFacts also has automation versions of the tools.

The automation tools allow fax broadcasts to be launched from IVR, email, receiving a fax, and time of day. Many of our service bureau systems have completely automated the launching of customer broadcasts. The customer first uploads the list and image via fax, BBS, or email/web. Then customer then receives a proof fax and time to call up an IVR port and kill the job if the proof is not of the quality needed. The FaxFacts system options allow IVR input prior to receiving a fax. The IVR information collected specifies the list, priority, and time to send the broadcast. The customer can also call into the system and get the progress of the job either via IVR voice playback, or a faxed status sheet.

*** Do Not Send (DNS) Block fax numbers ***
The system needs to have a central ability to block fax numbers. The FaxFacts system has a, high speed, lookup table that has the list of all phone numbers that are to be blocked. The FaxFacts system has two levels of fax number blocking. There is a central DNS file and then when you launch a blast fax you can specify list or customer/group blocking lists. Our service bureau customers have central DNS files and customer specific DNS files. This is a big issue due to the federal law that can cost you $500.00 for each fax that you send to a person that does not want to receive faxes from you or your company.

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