The Problem with Spam Filters

You see them everywhere, ways of fighting spam, email clients with builtin filters… but the problem with spam is not just that you have to see it (or not, if your filter works well) but that the spammers are… *drumroll*…

…because they are thieving mongrels…

See, all these filters are doing is STILL downloading your email, and dumping the rubbish in a folder so you don’t have to see it. And thats just not good enough in this day and age.

Think of it like this: Your mailbox on the street is jampacked full of junkmail (its almost Christmas after all) and when the postie comes to put your proper mail in the box, he can’t, because theres no room. Now you can drop all the junkmail on the ground, or take it in and drop it in your recycle bin, but how about putting a NO JUNKMAIL sticker on the box. That stops it from even arriving in the first place, and thats what you want and need to be doing with spam.

Most email servers have the capacity to be queried from a remote site (your computer) and the headers examined to see whats there. A good spam filter should be doing this, and either letting you decide whether you want to download any given email, or not.

Many email clients will allow you to look at whats on the server and delete emails anyway… so why not use them?

Windows: Beckymail has had this capacity ever since I began using it in 1996. It is still one of the very best (if grossly underrated) email clients out there. If you are a Windows user and NOT using Becky, you’re crazy.

Mac: now lets you see and operate on whats on the server. In addition, Gyazmail also does it very neatly

External Spam filters: The only one I know of that does a decent job is Mailwasher. I used it on my windows machine and there is now a Mac version. You can get a free version for windows which deals with one email account or you can buy a licence for Windows, Mac or Linux and get coverage for multiple accounts. It also has a bounce feature but I stopped using that when I began seeing my own email address being spoofed and when I began getting bounce messages for mail I had never sent. Bouncing email like this will not do a thing to the spammers but its going to annoy the crap out of genuine users. Spammers NEVER use their own email accounts. Remember this.

In my not so humble opinion (I have always thought that expressing opinion and calling it humble was a bit of a contradiction).. any piece of software which claims to be a good spam filter and does NOT do the operations on the server, is crap. Because its not stopping the spammers from stealing something *you* have paid for. Your bandwidth.

So here’s the deal: learn to set up your own junk filters and stop paying software companies to do it for you, or spring for something like Mailwasher to do the job properly. Other than that, get a good email client like Becky and stop mucking about with rubbish like Outlook Express. You’ll be much better off. Or get gMail.

[end rant]


4 thoughts on “The Problem with Spam Filters

  1. Ron 20/12/2006 / 12:11 pm

    I’ve been using the registered version of Mailwasher for a few years now (I think it was you who originally put me on to it) and I think it’s great even if Nick did sell out to a corporation (and good luck to him),

  2. kyte 20/12/2006 / 3:03 pm

    Hmm,i thought Nick owned the corporation. My original Mailwasher key which I had for my Windows version (given because I had been a donator) still works for my Mac version.

  3. Michael 20/12/2006 / 11:27 pm

    I used Mailwasher for a long time and liked it. My current solution though is to have my domain email hosted by Google, like gmail. I find this eliminates spam without me needing any hands-on involvement.

  4. kyte 22/12/2006 / 12:10 pm

    I have my domain mail hosted by google too, now, and I find most spam is eliminated. Some gets through. I have not actually looked into whether mailwasher can check SSL secured accounts. Must look.

Comments are closed.