Signed up for Google Spam Filtering (aka Postini)

I know that spam is a fact of life, but it’s a fact I hate. I’m lucky enough to have a great email address ([email protected]) but the problem is, I’ve used it on the web, and scrapers have picked it up, and it’s been entered in a zillion databases. In fact, people use those databases to try to sell me those very databases, among many, many (often unmentionable) other items.

So I first installed SpamAssassin both on my home Mac and I had our support person do it at work on our Linux box. I must say, SpamAssassin works pretty well, it’s open source, it’s free, and it’s close to impossible to install on a Mac. But it really did the trick for a while. Then, for some reason, it became less effective.

I spent a bunch of time digging around to see why SpamAssassin had lost its edge. I updated the software, tweaked the rules, added plug-ins, etc. Then I went on a campaign to ‘train’ it with the spam I was receiving – not very easy to do considering where our spam was going at work and how I had to ‘teach’ SpamAssassin.


I had looked at using Postini based on a friend/computer-consultant’s recommendation. But the problem is that Postini was only being sold through resellers to companies my size, and the resellers were nightmares. I tried to get through to the trial stage with two of them, but they didn’t understand the technical issues, they constantly misspelled my domain name (granted, it’s easy to misspell, but it’s vital that it be correct here) and their websites were just full of errors and inconsistencies. So I held off.

Then one morning I woke up to read the Google (who owns Postini) was beginning to sell the Postini services directly to the public. Yay! No more nonsense reseller business! No more middleman! And, wow, an aggressive price: $3/user/year.

I signed up my personal email address as a test run, and all was great. I signed up the office – great also. The interface is a bit cumbersome, but it works. There is really no support during setup. And you do need access to your domain name’s MX records to set Postini to intercept your mail. But for all mail that you don’t want filtered, Postini will forward it right along to your regular mailserver. I haven’t seen so much as a hiccup.

Strangely, the list of mail in my quarantine is far, far shorter than the spam they must be really intercepting. I suspect that they have essentially two levels of spam: mail that is so clearly malformed or sent to millions or otherwise just obvious spam that they discard immediately, and the other mail that could be spam or not, that gets compared to your filters and patterns.

It’s only been a few weeks, but I highly recommend Postini through Google. The filtering is amazing – my spam is 99% gone. I rarely even check my quarantine since it’s so accurate. And the price is right!

I actually had the thought that, with solutions like this, at a price like this, maybe spam would fade away. I doubt this will happen – everyone won’t bother to get a good filter, and those who don’t will continue to encourage spammers by patronizing them – but if I don’t have to deal with it, that’s progress enough.

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