Perhaps it shows how ubiquitous the concept of unsolicited electronic communications is that we didn’t even have to define the word “spam” in the title of this article. In the 90’s it was common to explain to the reader that no, we didn’t mean the canned meat. Now it’s arguable that fewer people even know of that definition.
There is a entire cottage industry of anti-spam products out there. This type of software lends itself very well to factual, objective analysis. It is easily measurable how much it lets through that it should, and how much it doesn’t let through that it shouldn’t. There are other considerations, of course, so let’s go through a brief listing of some of the most frequently mentioned anti-spam software packages out there.
We’ll start with the worst part about this package: not only is it fairly expensive, but it must be renewed annually. For a good package this can be seen as fair, given that the filters for a quality spam filter must keep rapid pace with the times, and all reports say that Cloudmark does exactly that. It’s easy to use with its drag and drop methods, easy on your system, and almost never blocks legitimate mail, though some spam does make it through on occasion. It uses ongoing feedback from a community of more than a million users to identify spam.
Spamfighter gets high marks across the board from its user community. It is fantastic on both sides of the spam war, letting in almost none and blocking almost no real mail. It functions on the network level, meaning that it requires no training and is effective right out of the gate. The price of “free” is hard to beat, though that software (ironically?) places ads in outgoing email. Upgrading to Spamfighter Pro for $30/year takes care of that.
Mailwasher Pro has about the longest list of features of any of the software out there. Among these are Bayesian filter, image blocking (few software packages offer this), telephone support, and compatibility with just about every mail client in existence. It comes with a 90-day money back guarantee as well.
Spam Bully is one of the best packages out there for giving you the information you need to combat spam. The user is given extensive information about every email they receive so that they know which rules are doing which. The overall effectiveness is also detailed to the user by graph. “Auto revenge” is also included as a feature whereby the spammer receives their mail back, though do note that there is some community debate over whether this practice is either effective or advisable.
There are many more antispam options out there, with a wide variety of features. Look for community reviews: this is one area in which there is a lot of user feedback for both the good and bad software packages, and they don’t appear shy about expressing their opinions about it. With some estimates saying that 75% all of email today is now spam, it’s hard to blame them.