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Spam Sleuth Review

Spam Sleuth Review

There are no 100% effective methods of combating spam, but some solutions are a notch above others. Spam Sleuth is one such service.

Spam Sleuth analyzes email behind the scenes, before you retrieve it from your ISP’s mail server. Then, when you do retrieve your mail, the spam has already been removed. At least that’s the theory – and it works fairly well.

Spam Sleuth requires very little configuration and works with all POP3 email accounts. It does not work with free Juno email, but it does work with all major email programs including Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Pegasus, Netscape, Lotus Notes, and others. It even works with MSN, AOL, free Yahoo mail, and HotMail.

I’m not a Spam Sleuth expert by a long shot, but for the ten days I tried it out, it worked quite well. I’m sure if I stuck with it and used it for a longer period of time, it would become even more effective. If nothing else, I like the “attitude” at work within Spam Sleuth because there’s even an option that let’s you charge spammers for the privilege of sending you mail. I don’t know if anybody has ever collected a dime from this, but it’s the thought that counts.

The only information you need to set up Spam Sleuth is your email address, password and the mail server. This is information you already have in your existing email program, so just check your account setup or settings. If you can’t locate the information, you can easily obtain it from your ISP. Spam Sleuth’s on-board Help is excellent, so be sure to check that out if you decide to give it a try.

Most spam-fighting programs have a list of “Friends” that you designate as acceptable addresses, sometimes referred to as a “white list,” as well as a list of email addresses that you never want to receive mail from, called (surprise, surprise) a “black list.”

Spam Sleuth has a list of friends and spammers, but for other mail, it uses a point system (that you control) for specific words. For example, you can assign a high score to words such as “Viagra” or “Credit Repair,” or “Online Pharmacy” and have them designated as spam.

You can also customize Spam Sleuth’s sensitivities, for example, telling it to block any message that contains more than 20 people in the “To” field, or that contains an attachment, or you can add points for crude language, profanity, or other items you consider offensive.

The “Pay-Me-To-Accept-Spam” option I mentioned previously is called the “Email Stamps” feature. Here’s it works: If a message generates a high score based on the points you assign to various message characteristics (you determine the point threshold), a message will be dispatched to the sender advising him (or her) that their message will be delivered after they pay a delivery fee, via PayPal. Don’t you love it? You can establish the amount of the fee, but the default is the price of a first-class, U.S. postage stamp, 37 cents. You must have a PayPal account to utilize this option, but it’s easy to create one. Just visit the PayPal Web site for additional information.

Once I installed Spam Sleuth and spent a couple of hours reviewing all its settings, I decided to fire it up and take it for a test spin. I have 24/7 cable access to the Internet, so I configured Spam Sleuth to check messages every 30 minutes and let it run overnight. I could hardly sleep, due to the excitement.

The next morning, a-twitter with anticipation, I clicked the Spam Sleuth icon (it appears below the time display) to check for messages designated as spam, based on my settings. While reviewing the list, when I encountered an email that I did want to receive and not have Spam Sleuth designate it as spam, it was a simple matter of right-clicking the message and selecting “Add to Friends.”

In my first overnight test, Spam Sleuth designated more than 120 messages as spam. It did, however, mischaracterize and thus include 27 messages that I did want to receive, so I added those to my “friends” list. After adding those “keepers,” I highlighted and elected to delete the spam messages. Spam Sleuth took care of the rest, deleting the spam from my ISP’s mail server and retrieving the rest of the mail that I did want to receive.

While this isn’t a program I plan to use on a daily basis – simply because I have hundreds of Eudora message filters created that do a great job filtering spam – I was impressed with Spam Sleuth. Without question, the more you use it, the better a job it will do for you.

If you’re interested in exploring Spam Sleuth further, a free demo version available and if you decide to keep it, it costs $29.95.

One final thought: If you decide to try it, I recommend that you print out the manual. You’ll find a link to it on the Spam Sleuth Web site. Even though it’s more than 100 pages in length, it contains lots of screen shots and I found it to be invaluable in helping me flatten out the learning curve associated with using this program.

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