With high-speed Internet connections, Wi-Fi, chat and smart phones now commonplace in many businesses, entrepreneurs don't send as many faxes as they did a decade ago. Therefore, many new computers no longer ship with a fax modem installed. Nevertheless, sometimes an old-fashioned fax is still the most efficient method for sending documents to someone. Whether you want to add a fax modem to a desktop or laptop computer, installing one yourself is relatively simple and something you can do in a few minutes in most cases.
Add USB Fax Modem
Connect the AC power adapter cord to the USB fax modem if the unit has one. Plug the power cord into an electrical outlet. Connect the telephone cord to the USB modem and a telephone jack.
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Connect the USB cable to the fax modem and empty USB port on the computer. Power on the modem, if it has an AC adapter. Wait a few seconds for Windows to detect the USB modem and prompt you for a driver.
Insert the installation disc for the modem into the optical drive of the computer, then click "OK." Wait a few seconds as Windows installs the driver for the device. Reboot the computer if prompted.
Install External Serial Modem
Log out of Windows and power off the computer. Connect one end of the DB9-to-DB9 serial cable to the serial port on the external modem and the other end to the serial port on the back of the computer.
Connect the AC adapter to the external serial modem and plug the power cord into an available electrical outlet. Connect the RJ-11 phone cord to the modem and a phone jack. Power on the external serial modem.
Power on the computer and log in to Windows. Windows detects the modem and either configures the modem automatically using a built-in driver or prompts you for the driver disc.
Insert the driver disc for the serial modem into the optical drive of the computer if prompted by Windows. Click "OK" and wait a few seconds for Windows to install the modem driver from the disc. Reboot the computer if Windows prompts you to do so.
Install a PCI Modem
Power off the computer, unplug the power cord disconnect all cables and external devices. Move the computer to table, desk or other sturdy work surface.
Remove the case screws that secure the left-side access panel cover with the Phillips screwdriver. Slide the panel cover off the case.
Clip the anti-static wrist strap to a drive bay or other metal surface inside the computer case. Slide the strap loop over one of your wrists. Discharge any static electricity in your body by touching a metal surface inside the case a few times.
Select an unused PCI slot on the motherboard. Use the Phillips screwdriver to loosen and remove the captive screw that holds the slot cover in place behind the empty PCI slot you want to use for the modem. Remove the slot cover from the computer case.
Insert the PCI modem into the empty PCI. Push the modem into the PCI slot until fully seated and secure.
Use the screw you removed from the slot cover plate to secure the mounting bracket for the modem to the rear of the computer case. Slide the left-side access panel back on to the computer and secure with the case screws.
Power on the computer and wait for Windows to load. Place the installation CD for the PCI modem into the CD/DVD drive when prompted. Click "OK" and wait for Windows to install the modem driver. Restart the computer when prompted.
Setup Modem in Windows Fax and Scan
Click "Start | All Programs | Windows Fax and Scan | New Fax."
Select the "Connect to a fax modem" option in the Choose a Fax Modem or Server window. Enter a descriptive name for the fax modem connection in the "Name" box and then click "Next." Select your modem in the device list, then click "Next."
Select an fax answering option. Choose either "Answer automatically (recommended)" or "Notify me" if you want to answer incoming fax calls manually. Windows displays the "New Fax" window. Follow the prompts to create and send a new fax to a remote fax machine.