I’ve tried filtering spam using my e-mail program,
Eudora. I’ve reported spam to Spamcop.net. I even
installed Norton Antispam to try to control the spam coming
into my Inbox.
|I needed something
to help me weed out the spam from the legitimate
But it was still getting out of control. I have three
separate domain names that I use for professional purposes
and use one e-mail address for each for contact purposes.
I needed something to help me weed out the spam from
the legitimate messages—that being difficult to
do by eye because of the similar subject lines between
my real e-mails and spam e-mails.
I began searching online in earnest when I was booked
to speak on a 7-day cruise. I heard that onboard Internet
services could be pricey but I needed to check my e-mail
because I was averaging 200-300 spams each day and I
was afraid that my e-mail server would shut down if
I didn’t delete some.
I found two services that seemed to fit the bill: SpamArrest
and Vanquish. Both had free trial periods, so I decided
to try them both out before making a decision. I tried
SpamArrest first. It offered a 30-day free trial—for
use while on the cruise. I then tried out Vanquish when
I returned home.
Both work on the same principle of challenging the
Once I signed up and installed the software on my computer,
I set up my preferences and server settings on the product’s
Web site. Although SpamArrest was compatible with Eudora
(plus Outlook, Outlook Express, Netscape, Incredimail,
and any other e-mail program that supports the POP3
protocol), I couldn’t add the e-mail addresses
I had stored in my address book (I needed to pay for
a year’s membership first). So I had to add approved
e-mail addresses in my account, which was tedious.
Here’s how it works: SpamArrest receives the
e-mail messages on its servers. If the sender is approved,
the message automatically goes to my inbox. If it was
blocked, SpamArrest rejects it. All the other senders
are sent a challenge e-mail message, asking them to
verify themselves because I was now using an anti-spam
service. To verify, the recipient clicks on the URL
in the challenge message and is brought to the SpamArrest
Web site, where a shaded box has a unique word that
they have to type into a text box.
This is how SpamArrest can weed out spam from legitimate
e-mails—spammers can’t take the time to
physically respond to challenges. They rely on their
spamming software to automatically get their junk out.
I log into my account on the SpamArrest Web site, check
the unverified messages, and then approve what appear
to be legitimate messages and delete the spam. What
I especially like about this is that I not only saw
the sender and the subject line, but if I clicked on
the subject line, I could preview the message to see
if it was real or spam. Remember when I mentioned that
some spam subject lines are similar to legitimate e-mails
I get? This is the best part of the service.
I could also configure SpamArrest to automatically
accept any mailing lists I belonged to, add approved
e-mail addresses, and block e-mail addresses I did not
want to receive messages from. The downside was that
I could not pre-approve domains I do business with on
a consistent basis (such as ebay.com, paypal.com, amazon.com,
etc) or block certain domains.
I went on my cruise (which was wonderful) and was able
to check my e-mail for a nominal fee. I logged onto
my account and sure enough, there were about 800 messages
that had not been verified. I patiently went through
the list, verified messages I recognized or thought
were legitimate, then got rid of the spam. When I checked
my POP mail via a Yahoo account I use on the road, all
I received were the messages I’d pre-approved.
I was pretty happy.
SpamArrest costs $19.95 for 6 months or $34.95 for
a year and works on Windows, Mac, Linux and any other
operating systems running standard email programs.
Working on the same challenge principle, Vanquish
offers a 15-day free trial (versus the longer 30-day
free trial from SpamArrest). However, it costs much
less if you decide to buy—just $24.95/year (you
can also get a bigger break buying 2 years at once or
opt to pay monthly after the first year).
I downloaded the free trial, installed it, then set
my preferences and server settings, much like SpamArrest.
However, Vanquish allowed me to add all the e-mail addresses
in my Eudora address book—all of them. I could
also add or block certain domains, which SpamArrest
doesn’t let you do.
Here’s how it works: Vanquish works much the
same way as SpamArrest. If the sender is not in my pre-approved
address or domain list, he or she is sent a verification
e-mail explaining that I am using Vanquish to cut down
on spam and to click on the URL to go through the verification
Again, verification is typing in a word that appears
on the Web page link in a text box. Once that is done,
the sender is approved and the message goes to my inbox.
If the sender does not do this, I check my held e-mail
and either release the message(s) to go to my inbox
or delete them completely. The one thing I don’t
like is that unlike SpamArrest, I can’t click
on the subject line to preview the message to determine
if it is really spam or not.
The other thing I don’t like is that sometimes
when I right-click on the Vanquish icon in the system
tray and select View Held E-mail, it has a hard time
loading the page. More often than not, my Web browser
locks up and I have to shut it down, right-click on
the Vanquish icon again—but select any other option
and I have no problem then checking my held e-mail.
What is nice is the instantaneous response I’ve
gotten for help with any problems using Vanquish. An
e-mail to the service is answered quickly. There is
also a message board on the Web site. Vanish is constantly
updating and improving features (for free) and has promised
to make Vanquish compatible with Web-based e-mail services
such as Hotmail, Yahoo!, etc.
Of the two services, I prefer (and use) Vanquish. Except
for not being able to click on the subject line and
previewing the message, Vanquish is less expensive,
more effective, and offers more features and options
than SpamArrest. It does work with any POP3-compliant
mail program, such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora,
Netscape, Opera (M2). However, it is only available
for Windows machines, not other operating systems like
Although neither program eliminates spam completely,
I have seen a dramatic decrease in the amount I get
each day. Where I used to get up to 300 spams per day,
I am now down to about 100-150. That proves to me that
Vanquish is doing something right.
Try out the free trials of both for yourself and make
your own decision. Whichever one you select, you will
stop using any other type of software or service.
30-day free trial
6 months/$19.95; 1 year/$34.95; 2 years/$59.95
Compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, other operating
Compatible with Eudora, Outlook, Outlook Express,
Netscape, Incredimail, and any other e-mail program
that supports the POP3 protocol and Web-based
e-mail services such as Yahoo! and Hotmail. Doesn’t
specify system requirements on the Web site.
15-day free trial
1 year/$24.95; 2 years/$39.95; or $4.95/month
Compatible with Windows 98/NT/Me/2000/XP.
Compatible with any POP3-compliant mail program:
Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Netscape, Opera
(M2); will soon be compatible with Web-based e-mail
services. System requirements: Pentium 133MHz
or faster, 64 MB of memory, 70 MB free hard disk
Jayne Hitchcock is the author of Net
Crimes & Misdemeanors. Her Web site