Getting a handle on spam

Now that I’m using a Blackberry, it was time to get one thing under control once and for all…spam. Wow, between my work and home accounts I get a ton of it. I read somewhere that as much as 70% of all email is spam, and my accounts show that to be true. If not worse than the average after nearly 10 years of using the same email address everywhere.

It’s fine on my desktop clients, where I use Cloudmark Desktop on the PC side and Spam Sieve on the Mac side. I never see any of the junk. But all the crap goes to the Blackberry and I was getting tired of sifting through it to get to legitimate email.

So I decided to try a filtering service. Essentially, these services provide you with an email address that you forward your regular email to (you can also have it replace your hosted email completely, but I didn’t want to go that far). Email that goes through that box is de-spammed before you see it. That’s about it. I know I could have used Gmail for this purpose, but Gmail only supports POP and I wanted to use IMAP. I looked at two such services, SpamCop and IslandEmail (which uses MailRoute for de-spamming). Both around around the same price a year (SpamCop is $30, Islandemail is $40). I went with IslandEmail because I can forward 3 separate email accounts to it, so both my work and personal email go into the same place. With Islandmail, they don’t place limits on attachments (through their SMTP) or storage space.

To be safe until I’ve given this a proper go, I’m still having those accounts go to their hosts’ email mailboxes. For a bit, I’ll check it via webmail to be sure nothing is getting lost. But so far, the forwarding is working nicely. I have Outlook set to check the IslandEmail account via IMAP. I set up 2 additional “reply only” accounts so when I reply to email, the address is hidden and nothing will appear different to the people I write to. On the Blackberry, I set my work and personal accounts not to deliver mail (and I hid their application icons on the Blackberry home page), but they’re still active so I can use them for replies. The only email that’s delivered to the device is what goes through IslandEmail first. That’s all there is to it. I wish there was a way that I can set a rule in Outlook that will set the correct reply account based on the “To:” of the original message and not the account that received the message, but apparently not. So if I’m replying to an email, I will have to remember to set the correct account before hitting “send” or it will show as my islandemail address.

On casual testing, there appears to be about a 5 minute lag between when I see a message in the host mailbox and when it filters through IslandEmail. I guess I can live with that.


4 responses to “Getting a handle on spam”

  1. I have used POBox for YEARS. I started using it as a way to avoid changing my email when I changed my service provider. But, they have SPAM protection now. So does my service provider. And, my mail program does as well. And, STILL SPAM sometimes makes it through unfiltered. It’s amazing. These services have gotten so much better now though — only rarely does mail that SHOULD get through get blocked anymore, thank goodness!

  2. Interesting. If islandmail doesn’t work out, I’ll definitely consider it. At this point, I don’t want to configure yet another piece of software. I’m also looking for a reliable IMAP solution (my work email doesn’t do IMAP well and it’s SMTP is finicky).

    But thanks for the suggestion anyway.

  3. 12 hour test: 15 emails made it to my inbox, 2 false negatives. 48 pieces of spam at MailRoute. No false positives. A skim of the originating mailboxes shows nothing dropped. Comparing the date stamps shows around 2 minutes to get from my host inbox to both the Blackberry and Islandemail inbox. That’s do-able.