The computer helper: Win the war on spam
By Jay Dougherty Aug 10, 2006, 12:30 GMT
Washington - Spam is everywhere. Thankfully, there are now many anti-spam weapons at your disposal - and more appearing all the time.
You can choose a totally free solution if money is your primary concern. Or you can pay a small subscription fee to one of the more proactive services available. Whichever method you choose, you should know the pros and cons of each.
Q: I use Outlook 2003's anti-spam filter. At first if was filtering out most of the spam I received. Now, though, it's letting a lot through. Is Microsoft slipping?
A: Outlook 2003 relies upon anti-spam filters that are updated periodically - much in the same way that antivirus signatures are updated to keep pace with new threats.
Chances are good that you've not updated the Outlook 2003 anti- spam filter lately. Microsoft tends to update the filter every quarter or so, but unless you initiate an update procedure, you may not even know a newer version exists.
Open Outlook, click the Help menu, and select Check for Updates. Be sure you're connected to the Internet. Your default browser will launch and take you to the Microsoft Update site. There, look for Office 2003 updates, and you should see the latest Outlook 2003 junk e-mail filter. Follow the directions for downloading and installing it.
Note that Microsoft now requires a Windows verification procedure before certain updates - including the spam filter - are downloaded, so be sure you've registered your version of Windows before undertaking the procedure.
Q: Is it okay to use more than one anti-spam program at a time?
A: Generally, yes. For instance, you might be running Outlook 2003, which comes with a spam filter built-in, and in addition employ an anti-spam solution such as Cloudmark Desktop (http://www.cloudmark.com/desktop/download).
Keep in mind that most anti-spam solutions that download all of your e-mail first and then sort out the spam actually route the spam into a special folder that's created for the purpsoe of holding the junk mail. Outlook 2003 calls this folder Junk E-mail. Cloudmark calls it Spam. Others may have yet a different name.
When you first start using a new anti-spam product, you should check the folder into which suspected junk mail is routed to be sure the program is not flagging mail that you want as junk. So if you use two anti-spam programs, you will be checking two different spam folders, at least for a while.
Q: Should I reinstall my e-mail program to get a fresh start before installing an anti-spam program?
A: No. Many of the best anti-spam solutions on the market - including Vanquish vqME (http://www.vanquish.com/products/products_personal_antispam.shtml) and Computer Associates' eTrust AntiSpam (http://www.qurb.com) - actually do a better job of blocking e-mail you don't want and letting through e-mail that you do want by first examining the e-mail in your inbox and what you've deleted.
Some products, including CloudMark Desktop and eTrust AntiSpam, will even sort through an e-mail folder that you know is filled with spam and remove the offending e-mail.
Q: These products take so many approaches to fighting spam. How do I know which one will work best for me?
A: Virtually all of that antispam products on the market - and all mentioned here - are available in a trial version. You have nothing to lose by trying them out and seeing which you prefer.
Essentially antispam products fall into two categories. There are those that first download your mail and try to weed out the junk by performing various analyses. Outlook 2003, Cloudmark Desktop, and eTrust AntiSpam are examples.
And then there are others that run your e-mail through their servers to get rid of the obvious junk mail and then to send 'challenges' to senders of mail that may or may not be junk. If a sender responds to a challenge - mass-mailing servers cannot - then the mail gets through and that person is from that poin on put on a 'whitelist' and allowed to correspond with you unchallenged. Vanquish vqME is an example of this type of product.
The second type of antispam solution is more aggressive and generally more foolproof than the first. Which method you employ should be determined at least in part by how concerned you are that your correspondents might be offended at being 'challenged' when they send you e-mail.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur