Why Most Spam Blockers Don't Suit the Needs of Average Users
As Editor of Support Alert newsletter I've tried dozens of spam blockers. Most of them can be made to work pretty well but in truth, very few are well suited to the needs of average users.
There are two reason why they are not well suited to average folks:
1. They are too hard to use.
2. They incorrectly identify too much of your genuine mail as spam
The first point is pretty obvious but let me explain the latter:
While almost all spam blockers will remove most spam, they will also wrongly identify some of your real mail as spam and delete that as well.
This is a really serious problem. Imagine having having 10% or your genuine email deleted at random. The deleted email could be advice of a new job, a love letter from an admirer or your electricity account. Not the sort of email you want to lose.
In practice most anti-spam products don't actually delete spam email rather they move it from your in-box to a special Spam or Junk Mail folder.
The theory is that you can regularly check this folder to see if it contains any of your real email that's been wrongly identified as spam. If so, you can move it to your in-box.
In reality, it doesn't work that way. Almost 70% of home users never or rarely check their spam folders for real mail. In some cases that's simple ignorance but it' s also a reflection of the time it takes to sift through dozens if not hundreds of junk messages.
I'm afraid that it's a case of out-of-sight then out-of-mind. That's human nature.
Over the years I've only used one anti-spam product that totally overcomes these two specific problems. That product is Cloudmark Desktop. If you use Microsoft's Outlook Express or its big brother Outlook for your email then you are in luck as you have available the absolute best spam blocker for home users.
Cloudmark's Desktop works differently to most spam filters. Rather than using a computer program to figure out what mail is spam it instead relies on its huge network of over one million human users to do the identification.
It works like this: When you install Cloudmark it inserts a special toolbar at the top of your Outlook screen. The Toolbar looks like this:
Whenever a Cloudmark user spots some spam in their mail, they select the email and click the "Block Spam" button and that information is then sent to Cloudmark.
When enough folks mark the same message as spam Cloudmark flags that message as spam.
If you, or any other Cloudmark user then subsequently collects their mail and it includes that message, it is immediately recognized as spam and moved automatically from their in-box to their spam folder.
In practice it's a little more sophisticated. Users are individually assigned reliability ratings according to how well they perform at correctly identifying spam. When a user flags a message as spam their action is weighed against their reliability or "trustworthiness."
You can see from the toolbar image above that I've got a gold start level of rating. That's pretty good. Well, in all modesty it's the best you can get ;>)
Using this collective approach Cloudmark accurately identifies spam. More importantly it never classifies your personal mail from friends, family, work colleagues and business contacts as spam. Just never. Yes, that's what I said "never."
Another advantage of the Cloudmark networking approach is that it catches phishing hoaxes as well as spam. Phishing hoaxes are fake messages pretending to come from your bank or other financial institution that are really designed to get you to enter you financial passwords in a bogus website. These things are becoming increasingly common and increasingly sophisticated. With Cloudmark they are virtually eliminated.
Other kinds of mail fare less well. Bulk mail newsletters occasionally can get misclassified as spam but this is easily handled as Cloudmark has an "Unblock" button that reclassifies messages. This allows you to white-list any newsletters you want to receive. Once white-listed they will never be classified as spam again.
Cloudmark will also occasionally misses some spam and it will end up in the in-box. This usually happens when the spam has just been mailed and not enough folks in the Cloudmark network have had time to classify it as spam. When this occurs you just select the spam message and hit the "Spam" button in the Cloudmark toolbar. It disappears immediately into your spam folder and the information is at the same time, passed along to Cloudmark to help other users.
With my email I've found Cloudmark detects and removes around 94% of spam. Others have reported better figures but I can't confirm that from personal experience. Still removing 19 out of 20 spam is a fine performance, though not quite as high as the 99 out of 100 achieved by the most technically sophisticated complex filters.
Using Cloudmark is a joy. Imagine the pleasure of watching the junk email disappearing from your in-box without any intervention. Imagine too the comfort of knowing that none of the mail that's disappearing is your real mail.
Folks, if you use Outlook Express or Outlook, this is THE way to go. It's not cheap but if you can afford it, it's worth every penny. Take out the free 15 trial and see for yourself.
Operating system: Windows 2000 and later including Vista.
Outlook Express versions: Versions 5 and 6
Outlook versions: 2000, XP, 2003, 2007
Mail formats: POP3, IMAP, Hotmail + MS Exchange (Outlook version only)
Web site: http://www.cloudmark.com
Free 15 Day Trial: Click here