Server-side Fax components in SBS 2003 [book excerpt]

Folks – while our thoughts turn to SBSers in New Orleans like Jeff Middleton, I continue to post up a few pages from my Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices book (da’ purple book) for your reading pleasure and consumption.
Today I post from deep in the heart of Chapter 9 with a look at specific server-side fax components.

enjoy…harrybbbb

Harry Brelsford, CEO at smb nation www.smbnation.com

Microsoft Small Business Specialist SBSC, MBA, MCSE, MCT, MCP, CNE, CLSE, CNP

PS – did u know I host an annual conference in Seattle each october for SBSers and SMB consultants? This year we help launch SBS 2008 and Essential Business Server (EBS) between October 4-6!

SBS Fax Components

SBS’s fax capabilities can be divided into server and client components. First I’ll discuss the server side, where basic configuration issues are addressed. On the client side, I’ll show what components are installed on an SBS user’s workstation.

BEST PRACTICE: Before I go one sentence further, there is something you should know that was mentioned ever so briefly during the SBS setup discussion: YOU DON’T NEED TO HAVE A MODEM ATTACHED TO THE SBS SERVER MACHINE TO INSTALL AND CONFIGURE MICROSOFT FAX (I’ve used capitalization for emphasis

– hope it worked). This is a huge improvement over prior releases of SBS and means you only need to physically attach a fax modem once you truly start to use the Microsoft Shared Fax.

The Server Side: Microsoft Fax

The actual faxing capability installed on the SBS server machine is known as Microsoft Fax. This server-side capability is installed automatically when you install SBS using the complete installation feature (which I recommend). It is comprised of the following three server-side components: Shared Fax Service Server, Shared Fax Service Manager, and Fax Console.

Shared Fax Service Server

This is the core server engine, and such a service it is (oy vay!). It is listed amongst other services (Start, Server Management, Advanced Management, Computer Management (Local), Services and Applications, Services, Fax).

Shared Fax Service Manager

This is the “official” user interface to configure, manage, and monitor the Shared Fax Service. I show you this in Figure 9-3. This is accessed by clicking Start, Server Management, Standard Management, Fax (Local).

Figure 9-3

The Shared Fax Services Manager as viewed in the Server Management console.

Later in the chapter I discuss the Microsoft Fax property sheet as the Swiss Army knife of faxing, where the real heavy lifting occurs. It is basically the property sheet accessed by right-clicking Shared Fax Services Manager.

Fax Console

This is more of a real-time user interface allowing you to view the sending and receiving of faxes as well as monitoring the fax queue and the all-important archiving function for sent and received faxes. This is useful for answering questions from business managers, such as “Did we receive that fax from the Ferguson Companies yesterday afternoon?” In the Fax Console, accessed from Start, Server Management, Standard Management, Fax (Local), click the Manage Fax Jobs link, as shown in Figure 9-4.

 Figure 9-4

Meet the Fax Console, a snap-in that runs in an MMC.

Note that there are other forms of fax reporting (to answer the “whether we got the Ferguson Companies’ fax” query) that I discuss later in the chapter.

Fax Modem

The installation of a fax modem device in SBS 2003 is truly automatic (continuing a positive trend that started in the predecessor SBS 2000 product). When you add a fax modem to the SBS server machine, it is automatically added as a device in the default fax modem pool. This fax modem is automatically configured to send but not receive.

You can also add a modem at a later date rather than when you install SBS 2003. This is a huge improvement over the first couple SBS releases (the SBS

4.x era), when fax modems had to be present and correctly detected during the

installation of SBS (Chapter 3 of this book). To see where the new fax modem was added as a device and to configure the Receive capability, simply look closely at Figure 9-3 above. Under Fax (Local) on the left side of the figure, observe the Sportster 56k Data Fax PNP modem device. You would right-click this device and notice the Send capability was

selected, but you must select either Auto Receive or Manual Receive. You might be interested to note in SBS 2003 that the fax modem can be configured to Manual Receive. This wasn’t possible in SBS 2000.

BEST PRACTICE: Be sure to use high-quality fax modems with your SBS network. Assuming faxing is important to you, purchase high-quality fax modems instead of “el cheapo” modems. A favorite of many SBSers on the Yahoo-based SBS newslist (sbs2k@yahoogroups.com) is the US Robotics V.Everything fax modem. And don’t forget that you can add multiple modems to support different variations of the faxing function in SBS 2003 (e.g., having one fax reserved for executives).

Fax Printer

The main Shared Fax Service functionality on the server-side that users will see is the printer called Fax. That’s because said users will “print” to a device called “Fax” (the UNC path is \\SPRINGERS1\FAX) when they want to send a fax. Note that the fax printer is not used by the user to view faxes (that’s handled via the Fax Console or by receiving a fax via e-mail or other methods such as WSS, which I discuss very soon!). To view the fax printer, click Start, Printers and Faxes, Fax. And for a real good time, right-click the Fax printer object, select Properties, and explore the various property sheets.

Notes:

Cover Page

You can select from several default cover pages that are sent along with the fax. The Cover Pages listing is shown in the Server Management console from Start, Server Management, Standard Management, Fax (Local), Cover Pages. Go ahead and open one of the cover pages by double-clicking it to launch the Fax Cover Page Editor. Figure 9-5 displays the Confident.cov cover page (this is the confidential cover page).

Figure 9-5

Cover page template (confident.cov).

By default, a user is required to select from one of the listed cover pages when a cover page is used in a transmission.

BEST PRACTICE: You can allow or prevent the use of personal cover pages (yes, the humorous ones) by selecting or deselecting the Allow use of personal cover pages on the Outbox tab of Fax (Local) Properties dialog box. See my discussion on the Swiss Army Knife later in the chapter for more on this topic.

The four default cover pages in SBS 2003 are stored at the following location

(which is different from the SBS 2000 product):

%SystemRoot%\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\ Micro­

soft\Windows NT\MSFax\Common Coverpages

BEST PRACTICE: You can create a cover page for your company and have that cover page be the only fax cover page which can be used on the SBS network. To do this, right-click the Cover Page object beneath Fax (Local) and select New, Cover Page to launch the Fax Cover Page Editor. Create the cover page, with graphics if desired, and save the file with the *.COV extension. This new cover page you’ve created can now be used as a fax cover page on the SBS network. Be sure to delete the other cover pages so that your SBS users must use your new corporate fax cover sheet by default when they elect to send any cover page at all.

 

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