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Summary:

Last year, Judi Sohn did an excellent roundup of anti-spam solutions, breaking them down by web-based, client-side and server-side solutions. As she noted there, research shows that about 80 percent of e-mail is spam, and that number has not changed much. It’s a big problem. Lately, […]

Last year, Judi Sohn did an excellent roundup of anti-spam solutions, breaking them down by web-based, client-side and server-side solutions. As she noted there, research shows that about 80 percent of e-mail is spam, and that number has not changed much. It’s a big problem. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with a couple of solutions in addition to the ones Judi cited. I’ll round these up here.

Are you an Outlook user? If so, Cloudmark Desktop for Outlook is not quite free, but it’s a very effective way to keep spam and phishing messages out of your Inbox. There’s a free trial, and if you like the application it costs $39.95.


Cloudmark Desktop is an add-on for Outlook, and it filters your e-mail as it arrives, routing probable spam into a spam folder. You can review your spam folder whenever you want to see if messages you want have been routed there, and delete the ones you don’t want. Cloudmark does its work automatically, so you don’t build filters, but you can specify contacts you want never to be filtered.

In the world of freeware spam blockers, Spamihilator uses Bayesian filters to weed out spam, and sits between your e-mail client and the Internet, scanning for spam in the background. It works with many e-mail clients, including Outlook, Eudora, Opera, Pegasus Mail, IncrediMail, as well as POP3 and IMAP messages. Spamihilator comes with a training module that lets you provide instructions for which kinds of messages you suspect are spam, so if you serially get spam from one sender, you can eliminate all of it.

When it comes to frustration with spam, the more I use Gmail, the more impressed I am with how good it is at filtering out spam. It uses its own built-in filtering, of course, but the filtering is quite good.

On that note, especially if you’ve resigned yourself to receiving lots of spam, keep in mind that the older your e-mail address is, the more spam you probably receive. Unless it’s an absolutely monstrous hassle to notify your contacts that you’re switching to a new e-mail account, consider, say, starting up a free Gmail account and enjoying a reprieve from all that junk mail.

How do you fight spam? Do you use Gmail? How have you found its spam filtering to work?

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  1. I work for a small non-profit in the IT dept. and we stumbled onto a spam solution a number of years back that has so impressed us we have nearly forgotten how bad it is “out there”. It’s a “Mail Gateway” or appliance type solution from NMGI called DoubleCheck. It’s been nothing short of amazing – VERY hands off after minor setting adjustment. A positive accuracy north of 99% and false positive rate too low to mention (like 1-2 per 1-5 million). We don’t even bother checking the quarantine since we’ve only ever found a couple amongst the tens of thousands per month – it’s really there only as a safety net in case something goes “missing”. They also provide constant backup of our settings and rule/config “tweaks”, keeping it up to speed with the changing challenges. I don’t have any connection to them, other than as a customer, even if I do sound like a fanboy. It’s just so rare to find something so effective against such a complex problem. It’s quite easily the best IT purchase we’ve made in the last 5 years. Our inbound rate is ~400,000 /mo., with 50% being blocked outright, 40% being trashed after the filters look at it, and a mere 10% valid mail being delivered on to our corp. servers. I use GMail for my personal accounts, and it does a good job as well.

  2. I use the open source program called POPFile – it works like Spamihilator, sitting between the internet and my pop3 client.

    I have been very consistent on training POPFile (it helps that it is pretty easy to do).
    I’m going to let the statistics speak for themself:
    Since May of 2006
    11,909 emails received
    5,498 classified as SPAM
    60 False Positives
    73 False Negatives

    I’m extremely pleased with the program.

  3. Craig Borysowich Thursday, January 24, 2008

    Just wanted to throw some props behind the cloudmark product – we have been using it for a few years now and it works quite well.

  4. I use the paid version of gmail for my domains email and the spam filtering has gotten so good, no false positives in months, that I can safely delete all spam without worrying about missing an email.

  5. One thing to think about when using GMail, but not wanting to change e-mail addresses is to use GMail as a POP client for your regular addresses, or another creative thing to do is to use GMail as a spam filter.

  6. david giesberg dot com » Blog Archive » Miscellaneous News and Links Thursday, January 24, 2008

    [...] More Ways to Fight the Spam Plague [Web Worker Daily] – Discussing different ways to deal with spam (I remember using Cloudmark many years ago, but now I am a GMail man) [...]

  7. WebWorkerDaily » Archive Reducing Unnecessary Email Intake « Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    [...] Tighten spam protection. Researchers say that in the first quarter of 2008, 92.3% of all email was classified as spam. As web workers, we’re especially prone to email spam since we use email as our primary communication tool. WWD Editor Judi Sohn has written an extensive guide on how to reduce incoming email spam. In that article, she discusses spam filtering for web based email, as well as server-side and client-side filtering. Samuel Dean has also compiled additional anti-spam tools you can use. [...]

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