When we conducted our TechTrax Survey a couple months ago, there was obviously
a lot of complaining about Spamjunk email that clogs inbaskets. In this
article, I'll tell you about a cool utility, that I use regularly, to bounce
that garbage right back to clog their own email servers!
My email address is obviously all over the Internet and I make no attempts
to hide it. Some folks add NoSpam to their email address, so it can't
be automatically picked up by web crawlers and spammers. But Greg and I prefer
to keep ourselves easily accessible to anyone who needs help. And because of
this, it means we receive a ton of junk mail from crawlers and spammers who
pick up my email in an attempt to sell me their unsolicited garbage. So how
do we combat the hundreds of junk emails we receive each day?
You can set up junk mail filters in Outlook to help you avoid much of
it. But after years of using that method, I've discovered that it doesn't always
work all that great. The most ridiculous fact I've discovered is that Outlook
treats a lot of email from Microsoft as junk mail! Yes, I can hear you
laughing now! But the problem is that, as am MVP, I receive a lot of email from
the Microsoft domain. And finding it a month later in my Junk Folder is not
There are lots of spam filter utilities out there. So if you've found a good
one, use it. But if you're not familiar with these utilities, this info should
enlighten you. The program Greg and I use faithfully is MailWasher. You
can download a free copy at www.mailwasher.net.
The creator of the program, Nick Bolton, gives this program away free to help
you combat spam. The default version has a scrolling display. If you want to
get rid of the MailWasher scrolling info display, you have to cough up a few
bucks to pay for a registration key. But if you find this program as useful
as we do, then it's a good idea to give the guy the few bucks, if you can afford
it, to at least say thanks and encourage him to continue to enhance the program.
The program is simple to use. Just install it on your computer. Set accounts
as you would in Outlook or Outlook Express with the POP (incoming) and
SMTP (outgoing) information you obtain from your email provider as to
the incoming and outgoing servers from your email provider.
NOTE! Sorry AOL users, but this might be difficult for you to
set up. I hear it is possible, but AOL is the only service that doesn't
freely provide this information or allow easy access to their mail servers by
third party programs like Outlook, Outlook Express or MailWasher! They want
you to use their email interface! But if you check around, you should
be able to get the info needed. Sorry I don't have it here.
I do have an MSN account, so for those of you with MSN, you can use
this: POP3.email.msn.com and SMTP.email.msn.com. Then use your
email address for your user name and your password. There's also a special checkbox
you'll need to check for MSN. Easy to set up!
Once you've entered all your email accounts, and checked all the Options
to verify that MailWasher is set up the way you want, just open it to run and
check your mail.
The way MailWasher works is that it displays all the email you currently have
on your serverthe mail waiting to be downloaded to your computer. It uses
lists from Spam Cop to mark known spam offenders on Blacklists and can even
see many known Viruses and displays them as such!
As you can see in the image below, which is just a small section of email I
get, there is a ton of junk I don't want. So rather than waiting for it to download
and then having to open it and/or delete it, I let MailWasher bounce this junk
right back to the offender!
This allows you the opportunity to view the email in the safety of the server
environment. If you receive mail that might be legit, you can open it
to see what it is. Spammers attempt to get through your filters by using subjects
that seem important.
Here's one I received that could have been important. It's an Internet Alert
and I might want this info. I double click to check it and discover it's just
more spam crap!
If this was a legit piece of mail, I could click to have it marked as a friend
so it would automatically be marked as good mail in the future. But since it's
not, I leave it as spam and it will not be logged into my list as a spammer.
In the image below (which I've purposely blurred to protect the innocent<smile>),
you can notice that most of these are automatically listed as my friends, so
their email will not be bounced and I can later download it to my computer to
read. But also notice there's an email with no legit address and no subject,
yet it appears to have an attachment! This could be a virus? But I can check
it by opening it.
And when I do, sure enough, it's junk mail!
And since viruses will take your own address book and send you fake emails
from your own friends in an attempt to fool you into opening it, you can also
check the headers of suspicious mail to verify it came from the users real domain
and not some spammer trying to hide!
The email header is important tracking information that technical support
can use to backtrack and locate spammers. Sending emails of offenders to their
domain won't help much. But if you capture this header information and send
that, they can track down offenders!
You'll need to put forth a little effort for awhile to make sure all your friends
are properly marked as friends and spammers are marked as spammers. But the
program gets smarter the more you use it.
Occasionally, a friend might be listed on a domain that has spammers and it
might list them as a known spammer. Just mark them as a friend and uncheck the
bounce and deletion and set them as a friend and their email address will be
corrected in your list.
Also, some technical newsletters use random email addresses each mailing. So
you can create your own filters, easily, by just adding the name or regular
subject information into a filter and Mail Washer will then watch for this mail
and leave it as legit.
Use MailWasher first everytime you check your email. When you're sure
all the mail is properly marked, you click the Process button and the junk will
be bounced and deleted. What's left will be all your legit email. You can then
close MailWasher, open Outlook (or whatever email client you use) and safely
hit the download button to pull down all this legit email.
Note! You'll want to set your Outlook/Outlook Express setting to not
download email at timed intervals, but rather wait for you to hit the F5 key
to call the download manually, after you've used MailWasher to clear
The good news is that when your email bounces, you'll eventually become recognized
as a bad email address and many spammers will remove you from their lists because
your bounces are now going back and piling up in their inbasket!<hee, hee>
The bad news is, it seems like there are more and more new spammers out
But at least with MailWasher, or similar utilities like it, we can try to combat
all this time-wasting trash!