What Are Soft Data Fax Modems?

by G.S. Jackson
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Fax machines were at one time ubiquitous in office settings, but have, to some extent, gone out of style with the advent of email and scanning technology. However, some offices still rely on faxing to share paper documents that need signing. To facilitate this, software faxing tools are available to send faxes from your computer. Since fax machines typically require a modem, a software fax modem will allow your computer to send fax information over a phone line to a fax machine.

Fax Machine Basics

A fax machine works by sending digitized document information over a phone line. The fax machine scans the document and records the data as a stream of bits, ones and zeros. Then, it connects to an attached phone line and calls out to another fax machine, much the same way you would call a person using a telephone number. The two fax machines communicate through the phone line and the document information travels to the second machine, which prints the document itself.

Software Modem

Fax machines require a phone line to connect and send data. Computer modems function in the same way, using a telephone connection to connect to computer servers and send and receive data. These modems used to function as stand-alone hardware devices, which gradually morphed into integrated devices on a computer's motherboard. Later, the "software" modem came about. The software modem emulates the functionality of a hardware modem, but does so entirely through software. This way, the computer does not need a physical modem, only the software modem that runs on the operating system.

Software Data Fax Modems

With the combination of a software modem and a fax machine, you get a software fax modem integrated into an operating system. Rather than having a separate fax machine, you can send and receive messages through the software fax and data line on your computer. This allows you to send documents to other fax machines directly from your computer and receive documents the same way. You can then print or email these documents as you see fit.


The primary benefit of the software fax modem is to eliminate the need for a separate fax machine. Another benefit is the seamless integration of fax documents with your document handling software. Furthermore, these faxed documents often come to your computer, most likely as a TIFF, PDF or JPEG. In these cases, you can use Optical Character Recognition technology to separate the characters from the image and convert the document into computer-readable text, allowing you to import the document into various text-editing programs.


Photo Credits

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About the Author

G.S. Jackson specializes in topics related to literature, computers and technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and computer science from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

More Articles