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A multi-line answering machine is a device that answers phones automatically for individuals or businesses. Machines that can answer more than one line at once are useful for those with two or more phone lines and make it possible for multiple callers to reach an automated message at the same time. These machines can be used as a first point of contact or they may be used to record messages left by callers who are unable to reach a person. Most of the time, a multi-line answering machine records messages in a digital format, though micro-tapes can also be used.
Though individuals with multiple phone lines can make use of a multi-line answering machine, these devices are usually found in businesses. The additional lines in a multi-line answering machine allow a number of people to call a single number at once without receiving a busy signal. Any number of lines may be attached to one of these machines. The number of incoming lines needed depends on the number of calls that an individual or business receives.
There are a number of different reasons to use a multi-line answering machine. One reason is to answer incoming calls. Multi-line answering machines may greet callers with a pre-recorded message, keep them on hold until a representative is available, or they help callers direct themselves to the correct department so that fewer receptionists are needed. They may also take messages for a person or business when no one is available to take the calls.
One of two types of answering services available, a multi-line answering machine is a physical device that is kept on the premises of the person or business that uses it. Though incoming and outgoing messages can often be accessed by calling in and entering a self-selected code, the messages are usually accessed on the physical machine itself. Voicemail services can also answer multiple lines though the machines needed to run these services are kept in remote locations.
Outgoing messages and messages recorded by people calling in to a multi-line answering machine can be stored digitally or on physical devices. Micro-tapes are the main type of physical recording device used today, though standard tapes can also be used. Digital recordings are stored on small, re-writable drives. Once a person listens to a message on one of these drives, the message can be deleted or stored for later. Tapes can be taken out of the multi-line answering machine when they are full and stored or they can be rewound and taped over.