Spam Blocker Reviews: Firetrust's MailWasher

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How it Works

MailWasher doesn't remove spam from your PC rather it removes spam from your mail server before you download your mail to your PC.

This may seem strange but it makes a lot of sense. It means that when you download your email you download it free of spam. That means smaller, faster mail downloads.  It also means that potentially dangerous spam and other unwanted email is kept well away from your PC.

Checking you mail on the server has other advantages: it means that you can delete obvious viruses, large attachments, phishing hoaxes and other unwanted mail before downloading.

Usage

MailWasher runs as a separate program from you email client.  You use it before you collect your mail.  When SpamWasher has finished removing any spam from your mail server, it will automatically start up you email program so that you can collect your mail.

As your mail arrives on your PC it's totally free of spam. You can start working without the distraction of opening mail only to find  someone is  trying to sell you something you don't want.

When you first start MailWasher it will automatically logon to all your mail accounts, including your Hotmail account if you have one, and shows you what mail is waiting.

The opening screen looks like this:

This is a listing of all the mail on my mail server. Actually on several servers as MailWasher has the ability to collect mail from several accounts (including Hotmail) and list all your mail together in a single panel.

At the top of the listing shown in the pink colors are all the messages that Mailwasher has identified as spam. The tick in the "Delete" column indicates that Mailwasher thinks all these messages should be deleted. What I normally do is quickly run my eye over these entries just to make sure that none of my real my is included. It takes just a few seconds as all the information you need is in front of you.

Below the spam mail is your real mail or rather what Mailwasher thinks is your real mail. I usually run my eye quickly over this as well to make sure there's no spam there. If there is I just click in the first column called "Learning" and SpamWasher will mark it as spam and improve its own ability to identify spam at the same time.

If at any stage you are not quite sure whether a particular email is spam or not you can view the email itself by tapping the spacebar. If you prefer there's also a preview window where you can view each message as you scroll down the list but frankly, I find it a distraction.

Once you've scanned your mail you click the "Process Mail" button.  Before your eyes the spam is deleted from the mail server. Mailwasher then automatically starts up your email program and you can get to work, spam free.

It sounds more complex than it really is. In practice the whole process takes me less than a minute each morning most of which I recover from the fact that my spam-free mail downloads faster.

TIP: MailWasher offers as an option, an additional optional technique for identifying spam called FirstAlert. This is a web service that utilizes other MailWasher users to collectively identify spam in a similar manner to Cloudmark. One year's subscription to this service is included in the purchase price of MailWasher Pro. After that, there is a separate but modest annual subscription of  $7 for the first year and $9.95 thereafter. The FirstAlert subscription is well worth considering as it greatly assists your spam detection and really helps with the identification of phishing emails and other frauds.

Performance

Despite the use of all these sophisticated techniques MailWasher will miss some spam. And, unlike Cloudmark, it will also occasionally falsely identify some of your real mail as spam.

On my test MailWasher, after training, accurately picks up about 93% of my spam mail.  About once a week it also misclassifies a genuine email as spam.

However with MailWasher these errors are not as much of a problem as with most spam filters. That's because you can see all your mail in front of you together with the way it's been classified. Nothing is hidden from you.

This makes scanning your mail for errors really quick. And fixing any problem is a snap.

Remember MailWasher not only tries to identify spam, it also flags possible viruses and other unwanted mail. No, it's not a substitute fro a good anti-virus program but it does give you one more layer of protection

Requirements

MailWasher can be used in conjunction with any email program and any version of Windows. The current version V5.0 costs $37.00 however there are some copies floating around the internet of the old V1.3  that come from the period when MailWasher was free.

The old free version works fine except that the spam detection rate is a lot worse than the current version.  On my figuring the rate it's well below 50%.  That means you'll be doing most of your spam identification yourself rather than rely on MailWasher to do it for you.  If you are prepared to put in that effort every day then you can get the free version from here: http://www.321download.com/LastFreeware/page2.html#Mailwasher

The Bottom Line

I've installed dozens of copies of MailWasher for friends, relatives and colleagues. What I've found is that normal users "get it" really quickly as it's very similar like sorting the junk mail from your post box. And just like folks enjoy throwing junk mail into the trash can, so they enjoy trashing the spam on their mail server. Most gratifying. Try the 30 day free trial version and start getting some of that gratification for yourself.

Details:

Web site:   

Operating system: Windows 95 and later.

Mail formats:  POP3, IMAP, Hotmail, AOL

Price: $37.00

Free 30 Day Trial: Click here


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Spam blockers for Average Users - page 1

 

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Comments

Article dated 2011 is now out of date.
I've used MailWasher Pro for years but now you have to pay for it annually. I did not mind paying for it once, but don't like the change to yearly fee. Also it is not good if you have several devices and mixture of POP3 and IMAP access (as the MailWasher help agrees). I have not yet found a perfect alternative but am looking at free software.

Correction: FEB 2017. The MailWasher website now lists a FREE version of MailWasher available. This has a cut down list of features (only 1 email address, no preview of the emails, no sync to mobile device, etc) but this may be useful for some people. However when I clicked on a link to download it said this was a Trial version that works for 30 days. Maybe the website is confused.