No one disagrees that spam is the scourge of the Internet, but what can the innocent spam victim do? Matterform Media’s Spamfire 1.2 puts both
general spam-fighting filters and highly
configurable individual settings into the hands of the person who best knows your email – you. Spamfire works with any email program, but to do its job, Spamfire must download the spam to examine it. Also, the program may not be flexible enough for some power users.
The $29 Pro version of Spamfire supports multiple accounts and includes 12 months of filter updates via the Internet. The $19 Lite version supports a single account, and doesn’t include online filter
Spamfire works by checking email before an email program does; it logs in to your POP mailbox and screens any waiting messages. Spamfire 1.2 does not support IMAP accounts, AOL, Hotmail, or Webbased email services, but support for IMAP should be available in the near future. If a message looks like spam, Spamfire downloads it so you can review it later, and then deletes it from the server. When Spamfire finishes, it activates your email program and delivers the "good" messages to the in-box.
Spamfire applies its entire rule set to each message, and each match adds points to what Spamfire calls the message’s "spam score". You set Spamfire’s threshold between 0 and 100 points for each account: a low threshold means more mail is blocked; a high threshold means more mail gets
through. Any of Spamfire’s filters can be disabled or enabled, and you can create new filters.
In our tests, Spamfire did a good job, typically identifying correctly more than 80 per cent of the spam it encountered. Messages identified as spam are added to Spamfire’s Spam List. If you see a message Spamfire shouldn’t have blocked, it can be
rescued so that it’s sent back to an email program. Unfortunately, though, Spamfire does not indicate which messages you’ve already rescued.
Spamfire’s effectiveness varies with the nature of the email received, along with the number of accounts and addresses. Spamfire will often block messages from mailing lists, but many lists can’t be placed on the Friends List because messages come from hundreds of people. Instead, you must
create filters that give negative spam scores to offset points added by the other filters.
Spamfire is an easy-to-use way to add sophisticated, configurable, rule-based filtering to email. It can’t spare you the bandwidth of downloading spam in the first place, and users with several accounts on different schedules may chafe at some of its limitations – but if you have a handful of accounts, Spamfire is a very good
program at a bargain price.