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Spam - The Curse of the Internet

I used to be so sick of all the spam that was sent to my email address. I would have to spend ages every morning just sorting out the relevant stuff and deleting the junk.

Due to the nature of mickwood.com I got a lot of unwanted email. My email address has been well publicised on the Internet so I was an ideal prospect for the spammers. I used to receive forty or fifty unwanted messages every single day and it was becoming a real problem. It is estimated that seventy six billion spam email messages will have been sent by the end of 2003.

So how did the spammers get my email address in the first place?

The main way is by using software, known as a spider, which crawls around the Internet looking to harvest email addresses. If your email address is posted on a Web site sooner or later a spam spider is going to add your address to a database. Some companies will also sell your email address despite claiming to operate a privacy policy.

How can you reduce the amount of spam you get?

There is no doubt that it is difficult, if not impossible, to totally eliminate spam but there are a number of things you can do to manage the problem.

All mickwood.com clients have a minimum of one hundred email accounts. Why not take advantage of that fact and create several different email addresses? Use one for personal use, another for business use, and a third address for other online activity. You can be fairly sure that the majority of mail addressed to the third address will be spam so change the address frequently.

Many spam emails include an 'unsubscribe' link at the bottom. NEVER NEVER NEVER click on these links! You are simply telling the spammer that your email address is valid - you will probably receive more spam in your inbox.

A great defence against spam is actually pre-installed on all mickwood.com hosting accounts. A piece of software called SpamAssassin is working in the background whenever you receive email. The assassin applies a number of sophicticated filter rules which identify spam when it reaches your inbox. When I set up hosting accounts I automatically enable SpamAssassin.

The SpamAssassin will not completely eliminate spam but it will significantly reduce it. If you would like to turn off the Spam Assassin simply visit the Mail Manager in your Personal Control Panel, select SpamAssassin, and disable it.

In addition to the SpamAssassin you can also set up additional email filters. To a certain extent this depends on the email software you use.

In Microsoft Outlook (or Outlook Express) this is done via Tools > Message Rules > Mail. You can also set up email filtering rules in your Mail Manager via your Personal Control Panel. It is really easy to do and we have even created a Email Filter Flash animation to show you how to do it.

Filters can be set up to block email from individual addresses or from whole domains such as hotmail.com. You can also set up a filter so that any mail containing words such as Nigeria or viagra can be automatically deleted.

I think filters are great and well worth considering. If you need any help setting up some filters just let me know.

By following these suggestions you will almost totally eliminate spam from your inbox. As I wrote earlier I used to get forty or fifty per day. Now I only get the odd one or two - most days I do not get any spam at all.

One final note. There is always the possibility that some genuine email will be incorrectly identified as spam by SpamAssassin and email filters. If the mail really is important I reckon the sender will attempt to contact me again using an alternative method. If not I am not aware of the email in the first place so I will not actually know that I have missed out - I guess I will have to live with that.

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