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What Are the Different Types of Voicemail Systems?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

Different types of voicemail systems can typically be categorized based on the way in which recording services are provided. Some telephones, for example, include internal hardware and software that can be used to record and store messages that are left by an incoming caller. There are also systems that can be created through the use of a software program installed onto a computer, which is then connected to a phone line. Some voicemail systems are based on services offered by various companies, which allow customers to have their messages recorded, stored, and transferred automatically for different phone lines.

Some of the simplest types of voicemail systems are those that are built into a telephone or are provided through external hardware, allowing the phone itself to receive and record incoming messages. These phones can be available in a variety of different models, and can be intended for individual use or as part of a larger network. Cordless phones, for example, can be used with a base model or a separate device that receives and records messages, which can then be accessed either directly or through an access code dialed into a handset. This allows a series of handsets to be used as part of a larger network, which can all access the voicemail systems to which they are connected.

A cordless phone that has a voicemail system built into the base.
A cordless phone that has a voicemail system built into the base.

Other voicemail systems can be created through the use of software that allows a computer to function as part of a telephone network. Once this program is installed, and the computer is connected to a phone line, then incoming calls can be routed to the program on the computer. This allows missed calls to be received by the software, which then provides the caller with an opportunity to leave a message. These kinds of voicemail systems can then store recorded messages as audio computer files, which can be sent to the owner of the system via email or as a message to a mobile phone.

There are also a number of voicemail systems that can be provided by various third-party companies and services. Many phone service providers, for example, also offer voicemail recording for clients who have a phone number through the service. There are also companies that do not offer telephone service, but which can be used to set up voicemail systems on different types of phone lines. Once an incoming call is missed, then it is transferred to the third-party system that records the message and can then be accessed externally by the client through an access code and password.

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Discussion Comments


I mostly use voicemail that comes through my service provider. That way I don't have to worry about losing all my messages if something happens to my phone, because they are attached to the number and I can access them from somewhere else as well.

I found that really helpful when I was traveling in Europe. I did take my phone with me, but it wasn't always convenient to charge it, or to use it at all in places where my provider didn't have an easy way to change it over.

But, I was waiting for an important call. So, every now and then I would just use Skype to call my own phone and go through the routine that gets you into the messages, so I could check them without turning the phone on. It worked really well.


@Mor - I know a few people who still use answering machines. I know you can get voicemail even on home phones, but they've had an answering machine for a long time and it works, so why change it?

Plus, I know a few people who like to keep certain messages. For example a friend of mine keeps the last message her dad left for her on her answering machine, just by keeping the tape that was in there when he left it.

You can do that with voicemail, but it's harder to trust that your message isn't going to get wiped at some point when it expires or whatever.


Voicemail systems are almost completely ubiquitous these days and yet almost every time someone in a movie uses this kind of technology it seems to be with an answering machine, rather than voicemail.

I guess it just fits into the popular consciousness more. It's easier to do a "missed message" type of thing, since with an answering machine you can listen to what the person is saying while they say it, without answering.

But, in a few years I can really see kids asking, what is that machine, and what's the point of it?

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    • A cordless phone that has a voicemail system built into the base.
      A cordless phone that has a voicemail system built into the base.