Archive for January, 2007

A Quick And Free Anti-Spam Process

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

An issue at the forefront for web hosting providers is unsolicited e-mail, or SPAM. Many hosting providers like StudioKraft offer one or more anti-spam programs along with their e-mail services, such as SpamAssassin or BoxTrapper. While these programs help to control the overall level of unsolicited e-mails, they do have their drawbacks.

Nobody likes to receive unwanted e-mails. The advertising, scams, ‘phishing’ plots and other garbage that arrives in our Inboxes is an inconvenience, even if all that we have to do is press the Delete button when we receive them. Many e-mail users cannot be bothered with configuring ‘white’ and ‘black’ lists and rely on their e-mail service provider or web host to tackle these issues for them.

In addition to the anti-spam measures that your provider may take, there is another step that can be done to reduce the amount of rubbish that arrives in your Inbox. It is simple and easy to accomplish, if your host allows the relatively common feature of e-mail forwarding. (Contact your e-mail service provider if you are not sure whether or not you have this feature).

In a nutshell, the quick and free anti-spam measure involves forwarding your e-mail through Google’s GMail service. The details of this procedure will follow. The reason for doing this is simple – although GMail has come under fire from some concerned citizens, the fact remains that their anti-spam filters (some borrowed from other companies) are among the best, and their service is free. Their filters are constantly being improved and updated, so it seems to be a no-brainer to take advantage of this. The issue then is how to use GMail’s filters while retaining your e-mail address of you@yourcompany.com.

Since Google announced that GMail can be accessed via POP3 (the standard method of e-mail programs to connect to e-mail servers), it is no longer necessary to go to the GMail web site to send and receive mail through the service. This opens up the possibility of using GMail for anti-spam and anti-virus protection while not having to change the e-mail address on your business cards.

The process is simple – first, register for a GMail account if you do not already have one. Second, follow the instructions provided by Google for setting up your GMail account in your mail program (Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, etc.) Third, access the control panel for your e-mail (again, consult with your e-mail service provider on how to set up mail forwarding) and forward your mail to your GMail account.

Do not delete the information from your original e-mail account in your mail program – this will enable you to send e-mail ‘from:’ your original e-mail address and not from your GMail account. This provides the transparency to correspondents as all e-mail will appear as coming from your you@yourcompany.com address, and all incoming mail will be coming through GMail, and consequently, through GMail’s filters.

This method does have its drawbacks – there have been times when mail with certain attachments (html pages in particular) is blocked by GMail. Therefore, it is good to have an unadvertised ‘backup’ e-mail address on your primary domain that you can give to people who need to send you files via e-mail that are being blocked by GMail. The benefits of using GMail’s filters outweigh the inconveniences – we have noticed a significant drop in unwanted e-mail since implementing this simple redirection on our mail accounts.