Sunday, January 21, 2007

Managing Spam

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is how do we stop spam arriving in our inbox. The bad news is that it's almost impossible to stop. You start receiving spam once your e-mail address gets out into the public domain. You don't necessarily have to engage in on-line commerce for this to happen. You may only send e-mails to two or three friends and believe that it's impossible for your e-mail to get into the public domain. Not so. All it takes is for your friend's PC to become infected with a virus that harvests e-mail addresses and, voilĂ , your e-mail address is up for sale to the spammers.

You can manage spam in one of two ways - sign up for a server-based service, such as Eircom's Email Protector, or use a local solution. A server-based solution screens all e-mail as it passes through a computer known as a mail server and checks the email's content and/or point of origin and thereby decides whether it is spam or not. If it is deemed to be spam it is not forwarded on to your inbox and will never arrive on your PC. These services are rarely 100 percent effective and we have found with Eircom's service, for which there is a monthly charge, that it eliminates approximately 70% of the spam destined for our Eircom e-mail account.

To deal with the remainder that slips through the server-based solution will require a local solution installed on your PC. There are a wide variety available, both commercial and freeware, and a quick google of "spam solutions" will provide you with a number of options.

Here at PC Medic our way of dealing with spam is to use Thunderbird, available for free from , as our e-mail client. Thunderbird has a built-in spam filter which, after a week or so of training, achieves almost a 100% hit on spam. It is simple to install, will import all your existing Outlook Express folders and mail settings, and does a great job of managing the spam that does get through. Check it out. For more on spam check out this link.

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