I couldn’t find an anti-spam software service that
made me happy. Vanquish and Spam Arrest were very good
at cutting down the amount of spam coming into my Inbox,
but I still had a problem.
These services sent “challenge” e-mails
to people who were not on my approved list. These people
would receive an automated message stating that I was
now using an anti-spam service and that they would need
to click on the link in the e-mail to be approved before
I could receive their message.
I can’t tell you how many times I received another
e-mail from these people telling me I had a virus or
was spamming them or asking if this was a legitimate
e-mail address and Web site.
I got so tired of trying to explain the challenge e-mail
to people that I looked for an alternative. MailWasher
was recommended by a friend. I went to the Web site,
downloaded the free trial version, and installed it.
What I liked most was that I could see all of my e-mail
messages before they went to my e-mail program. (The
messages stay on the server until you process them.)
With Vanquish and Spam Arrest, you have to log in to
your account on their Web site to go through your messages.
Setup was easy and similar to the other anti-spam services.
I uploaded all the e-mail addresses in my address book
in Eudora Pro. I then followed the step-by-step instructions
to include my four e-mail addresses.
There are three panes (frames) in MailWasher Pro. The
right-hand frame contains three tabs for Friends (approved
e-mail addresses and/or domains), Blacklist (unapproved
messages—all spam), and Filters. The top-left
frame contains several columns when a message comes
in and can be customized. I have mine set to show the
sender’s address, subject line, date, and status
(which separates incoming messages into Known Spam,
Origin Blacklisted, Probably Legitimate, or Friend—or
it can be left blank). Three boxes allow me to choose
whether I want to delete, report, and/or bounce the
The bottom frame is my favorite. When a message comes
in, I can click once on the basics in the top frame
and part or all of the message will appear in the bottom
Preview frame. This is especially handy for me because
a lot of people (and I don’t know why) send me
messages with absolutely no subject line. This is normally
categorized as spam by other anti-spam services, but
this new ability allows me to change the sender’s
status to Friend if I wish or leave it blank (undecided,
I suppose). Instead of clicking on Process Mail, I can
also do a Quick Reply by clicking on the appropriate
button in the Preview frame. This automatically opens
up a reply message in Eudora (or whatever e-mail program
you use). It’s a nice, but unnecessary, feature.
If the e-mail is spam and isn’t already noted
as being Known Spam or Origin Blacklisted, I gleefully
check the Report and Bounce boxes. Spam is determined
by comparing it to databases of known spammers—FirstAlert!,
SpamCop, and Open Relay Database (ORDB). If the incoming
spam is in one of these databases, it’s marked
as Known Spam or Origin Blacklisted.
I have MailWasher Pro set up to automatically open
and gather my e-mail when I turn on my computer in the
morning. I usually get quite a bit of e-mail, and sometimes
I overlook a message that is legitimate. Many times
I’ve deleted a message and then said, “Oops!”
If I discover I really want one of those deleted messages,
I can click on Tools in the main toolbar, then Statistics,
and a separate window appears. I click on Mail Log,
find the accidentally deleted message, click on it,
and then click on the Restore button. The next time
I check for messages, that e-mail will be restored.
Another nice feature in the Statistics window is the
actual statistics. I’ve been using MailWasher
Pro for about 3 months, and I’ve seen my spam
intake decrease from an average of 200 per day to less
than 100. In a 1-month span, I found that I received
16,374 e-mail messages. Of those, 12,135 (74 percent)
were spam. (I reported 327 of them.) Of the spam I received:
872 were blacklisted, 566 were in the FirstAlert database,
and 111 were designated as spam, according to preset
filters in the program.
On a recent day, of the 112 e-mails I received, only
17 were from friends or were legitimate messages. Pretty
As with all software, there are plenty of options and
preferences to mull over. I spent a half hour going
through all of these to customize MailWasher Pro for
my needs. Then I went through the Help section to go
over the basics. The MailWasher Web site is also very
informative, with an extensive FAQ section and links
to related subjects.
I highly recommend MailWasher Pro, mainly because you
are in full control of all your messages and can retrieve
any that are mistakenly deleted. This is one of the
best features. I also like the preset filters and databases
that are used to determine if a known spammer is sending
me junk. This has made it so much easier for me to get
to my legitimate messages.
What’s especially nice is that it works with
any POP3, IMAP, Hotmail, or AOL account—the others
don’t. And, the one time I had trouble with an
update, I got a reply to my e-mail request for help
within 1 hour. I was stunned. MailWasher Pro’s
customer service is absolutely wonderful and is, by
far, above and beyond just about any other software
company’s response time.
I also like the e-mail newsletters I get once a week
or so from the MailWasher folks. They have some great
tips and information—sometimes I can use their
advice in presentations I give on cybercrime.
With MailWasher Pro, I don’t have to worry about
people freaking out about “challenge” e-mails.
They don’t get them anymore—and I decide
who’s a friend and who’s a spammer.
30-day free trial
$37 ($9.95 per year after that)
• Works with POP3, IMAP, AOL and Hotmail/MSN
• Windows 95, 98, NT 4, ME, 2000 or XP
• File size: 2.8 MB.
• Download Time: 7 minutes @ 56kbps
Jayne Hitchcock is the author of Net
Crimes & Misdemeanors. Her Web site