Spam is a huge problem on the Internet. For many years now, well over half of all email traffic has been spam. Spam wastes much of the Net's bandwidth, slowing down legitimate traffic. On the personal level, few things irritate users more than unwanted sales pitches. Many spam emails are dangerous bait containing links to malware sites that can steal your identity. You need all the antispam protection you can get. Here are some effective anti-spam tools...
Spam Blockers and Filters
Your email service provider is the first line of defense against spam, and the easiest antispam tool to implement. Spam is filtered out at the email server without ever being delivered to your inbox. It's like filling out a form at the Post Office saying no, thanks, don't deliver any junk mail to my address.
Unlike the Post Office, which makes money by delivering junk mail, email providers are very happy to enable antispam tools because they don't want to waste their resources delivering junk mail to you. So antispam filtering is usually enabled by default on all email accounts you set up. But not always. Some email providers charge a small fee to enable antispam tools. They figure a spam-free inbox is worth some money to you.
What's in YOUR Spam Folder?
If you have a Spam, Bulk or Junk folder that contains junk mail messages, that's a sign that your email provider is doing spam filtering. If not, check with your provider to see what options they offer for spam blocking.
It's a good idea to check the Spam/Junk/Bulk folder periodically to ensure that no mail you really want is getting shuffled off to that antispam pit. If someone says, "Did you get my email?" and you didn't, check the junk mail folder to see if it's there and add that sender to your address book or whitelist. Most email systems that do spam filtering will consider a message to be legitimate if the sender is in your address book.
"False positives" can be a problem with any antispam tool. A false positive is when an email is labeled spam when it really isn't. You can minimize false positives by "whitelisting" the email addresses of people from whom you want to receive mail. Whitelisting tells your antispam tools that this address - or even the entire domain from which desired mail originates - is legitimate and should not be blocked.
Other Anti-Spam ToolsIf you have antispam tools enabled on your email account but you still get too much spam, or if your email provider doesn't offer any antispam tools, consider switching email providers. Google's GMail has one of the best antispam tools available. It automatically traps most spam and lets the legitimate email through.
Most email programs that manage mail on your computer have antispam tools built into them, too. This is your second line of defense. Desktop email programs like Outlook, Eudora, and Thunderbird allow you to create filters that can block email from specific addresses, or block messages that contain certain keywords. Most web-based email providers such as Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail have filters as well.
For most people, two sets of antispam tools are quite enough. A small percentage of spam mail may still slip through to your inbox, but it's a rare annoyance and not a constant tidal wave of spam.
There are commercial antispam tools, such as Spam Bully, and SpamButcher, which claim to do an even better job of blocking spam. If you have your own server, SpamAssassin is popular free tool that can be installed at the server level to block spam. It's a little geeky, but highly configurable and very effective.
If you want some background info on Spam, and other tips on dealing with unwanted email, check out Randy Cassingham's Spam Primer. It'll tell you how spammers get your e-mail address, why complaining about junk mail is pointless, and how to keep your inbox safe from scammers.
Got something to say about anti-spam tools? Post your comment or question below…
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 9 Dec 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Antispam Tools (Posted: 9 Dec 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved