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Junk Email/SPAM Filters May 4, 2009

Posted by twiznc in Email, Services & Software Recommendations, Virus, Spyware & SPAM Issues.
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Updated March 6, 2016

This article discusses the problem of junk email messages (SPAM), steps you can take to avoid junk messages, and provides descriptions of and links to several  popular SPAM filters.

Click here to jump to the program links

The problem of junk email, also known as SPAM or “Unsolicited Commercial Email” (UCE) has grown along with the phenomenal growth of the Internet and the use of email as a primary communications conduit.  Unless you NEVER share your email address with ANYONE (which really defeats the purpose of having an email account), then you are subject to being inundated with unwanted junk email, or SPAM.  Even if you only share your email address with those you trust not to sell it or share it with anyone else, you email address can be stolen from that trusted entity, or their computer can at some point become infected with a virus that can pull your email address out of the trusted entity’s address book or list of contacts.

While there are specific things you can do to prevent SPAM, once your email address is “out there” it is almost impossible to stop SPAM from coming into your inbox.   Your only two options then are to use a SPAM filter to filter junk messages from your inbox, or switch to a new email address.

If you use a web-based (“webmail”) email service such as Gmail, HotMail/LiveMail, or Yahoo mail then you must depend on their SPAM filtering tools and methods.  Web-based email services vary greatly in their effectiveness in filtering SPAM.  You may need to adjust the SPAM filter settings (if available) to increase the agressiveness of their filtering of your account if you still get too many junk messages.

If you use a locally-installed software application (like Outlook, Windows Mail, Thunderbird, etc.) then once you start getting SPAM, you’ll need a SPAM filter add-in for your email application in order to automatically remove junk messages from your inbox so you don’t have to wade through it to get to your legitimate email messages.

One thing to keed in mind when using a SPAM filter: The more agressive you configure your SPAM filter (in order to filter out more junk messages), the more likely that legitimate messages will be “caught” by the filter.  So you may need to adjust the settings of your filter to maximizie the amount of junk messages that are filtered while minimizing the amount of legitimate messages that are mistakenly filtered as junk messages.  Because of this “balancing act”, you should always configure your SPAM filter to move junk messages to a “Junk Email” or “SPAM” folder in your inbox, rather than deleting them or moving them into your Deleted Items folder.  That way you can quickly review the filtered messages for legitimate messages before deleting the contents of the folder containing your filtered messages.

Increasingly, SPAM filters are being included in other security-related software programs such as anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall software.  And users of Microsoft’s Outlook email application can take advantage of the built-in Outlook Junk E-mail Filter to remove SPAM from their inbox.  Take note that by default the protection level for the Outlook Junk E-mail Filter is set to “low” so you may need to make the filter more agressive in order to reduce the amount of junk email that arrives in your inbox.  In some cases, an additional SPAM filter may be needed to compliment the Outlook Junk E-mail Filter in order to maximize junk message filtering.

Program Links

Below are just a few of the many SPAM filters that are available for personal and small business use.  At this time we are not recommending one specific program as the best, but we would appreciate any feedback you may have on these programs or on progams we should include in our listings (or one you think we should recommend).

  • SPAMfighter (Free for home use; $29.95/year per PC  for commercial use or for added features) – SPAMfighter is a plug-in for Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail or Thunderbird.  Once installed, whenever new mail arrives it will automatically be tested by SPAMfighter, and if it’s SPAM, it will be moved to your SPAM folder. If any SPAMfighter user receives a spam mail that is not detected, once that user clicks a single button the spam mail is removed from the inbox of all SPAMfighter users within seconds.  Note that with the free version a short text ad is displayed in your e-mail client, and an “I’m protected by SPAMfighter” message is attached as a footer to your outgoing e-mails.
  • MailWasher (Free) – MailWasher works  by filtering messages BEFORE your email server downloads them to your computer, allowing you to review filtered messages even before they are downloaded to your locally-installed email application.   Works with Outlook, Outlook Express and most every other non-web based email program.
  • SPAMBULLY (14 day free trial; $29.95/year per PC) – This Bayesian SPAM filter for Outlook, Outlook Express, and Windows Mail/LiveMail intelligently knows which emails you’ve received are good and which are SPAM by using artificial intelligence and server blacklists.  Of course, you can also add senders to an Allow List or a Block List.

For larger business and enterprise SPAM filtering solutions please contact Tech Wizards at 919 841-5506.

Regardless of which SPAM filter you choose, you will be more productive (and happier) once you filter junk messages from your inbox.

Click here for more Consumer Guides and Recommendations.

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