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Getting Started

Article 2

Stop Wasting Time Reading Spam:
Get Down To Business Faster
(A Review of "Spam Blocker" Software)
by Elliott Gurwitz

Within the first month, Spam Blocker had blocked over 500 messages.Spam (unsolicited bulk e-mail advertising) is becoming increasingly prevalent on the Internet. Our mailboxes are being filled with unwanted advertisements such as get rich schemes, miracle medical cures, pornography, stock tips, and free offers. Spammers, or people that create and send unsolicited bulk e-mail advertisements, use advanced tools to collect e-mail addresses of unsuspecting individuals from many sources, including Web sites, news groups, and search engines. Generally, the longer you use the same e-mail address, the more spam you will receive. Our company has used the same e-mail addresses for over five years, and we are receiving several hundred useless advertisements a week. It has become increasingly difficult to sort through spam to locate legitimate messages, so we are quite happy to find new solutions to resolve this problem. While you may not receive this large amount of unsolicited advertisements, at some point in the future you may.

Based upon current trends, statistics show that the number of spam e-mail messages will eventually surpass the number of legitimate e-mail. Unless major changes are implemented, the use of unsolicited bulk e-mail advertising will continue to grow and may become 60%, 70% or even more of the total number of e-mail sent. Spam Blocker, from CoffeeCup Software, was created to help you avoid some of the problems that spam creates.

We tested one of the first versions of the program, and initially had a little trouble getting Spam Blocker to work with our Internet service provider. We contacted the manufacturer’s technical support, and they were able to solve the problem. Spam Blocker is best suited for computers that are always powered on and have a high speed Internet connection.

Within the first month, Spam Blocker was able to block over 500 messages.  Here is a brief overview of how Spam Blocker works. First, you set your regular e-mail program (e.g. Outlook, Eudora, Netscape Mail) to check your e-mail every 10 minutes or so. Then, you set Spam Blocker to check your e-mail more frequently, perhaps every 3-5 minutes. When Spam Blocker checks your mail, it reads through the text looking for indications of spam. For instance, it may search for common language used in Spam, for example "get rich," "stay young," and "medical breakthrough.” If an e-mail message matches the criteria for "spam," it is removed from your mail server. When you check your e-mail as usual with your regular mail program, the spam will already have been deleted from the server and you will be receiving only e-mail that was approved by Spam Blocker. No more sorting through spam!

You can easily view any suspicious messages caught by Spam Blocker to confirm that they are indeed spam. Messages that the program marks as spam appear on the top part of the screen and are deleted from the mail server while legitimate messages appear on the bottom. If Spam Blocker makes a mistake and marks a legitimate message as spam, you can manually accept the message so that it will be returned to the server. It can then be retrieved with your regular mail program. To assure that messages from the same sender are not mistaken as spam in the future, you have the ability to set Spam Blocker to automatically accept all e-mail from the same e-mail address or domain.

In addition to the common blocking of spam by a single keyword or phrase, you can easily eliminate spam by e-mail address or domain name, messages that contain multiple keywords or phrases, e-mail with non-English characters, e-mail originating from foreign countries, and more. Rather than simply searching a message for a single keyword or phrase like "get rich," this program is much more powerful and allows you to set several triggers before an e-mail message is labeled as spam. For instance, if the e-mail contains an offensive word or phrase, you may want to have the program instantly mark it as spam, while you may choose to allow other common advertising words or phrases to appear several times before concluding that a message is unwanted. The program becomes more accurate in blocking spam by allowing you to set the number of times each word or phrase can appear.

Another powerful feature of the software is that you can create your own rules or alter the default settings that are provided in order to more accurately stop spam. If too many advertisements get past Spam Blocker or if the program blocks many legitimate messages, then you can change the settings accordingly. Some of the initial default settings of the program may not be correct for your particular needs, but they are easily adjusted. For example, when we first loaded our program, any incoming e-mail with a link that contained the word "unsubscribe" was automatically marked as spam. We changed the program settings so that it would look for additional criteria before concluding that a message was unwanted. (While many unsolicited e-mail advertisements include the word "unsubscribe" in a link, many legitimate messages will, too). To get the most out of this program, you will need to train it by adjusting the settings, especially when you first start using it.

The most attractive feature of the software is that you can monitor multiple e-mail accounts from one computer running the Spam Blocker program. For instance, if your business has several e-mail accounts, you can block spam on all of the accounts with just one Spam Blocker program. More importantly, you can also easily censor your family's e-mail. If your children have their own e-mail accounts, you have probably been concerned about their receiving pornographic or other inappropriate advertisements. Spam Blocker allows you to check their mail and block spam before they ever see it.

We have several additional spam prevention tools listed in our recommended products and services.

CoffeeCup Software - Spam Blocker
Spam Blocker

by CoffeeCup Software
Download a trial copy of Spam Blocker

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