MailFrontier Desktop - Spam Protection for Outlook and Outlook Express
written by: Bill Bunter•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 5/7/2010
MailFrontier Desktop provides you with an easy way to keep spam out of your family's inboxes. Spam is a bandwidth-sucking scourge that can expose your children to explicit and inappropriate material and expose you to everything from viruses to phishing scams.
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Egg and Spam; egg, bacon and Spam; egg, bacon, sausage and Spam; Spam, bacon, sausage and Spam; Spam, egg, Spam, Spam, bacon and Spam; Spam, sausage, Spam, Spam, bacon, Spam, tomato and Spam.
Opening your email can be like ordering food in Monty Python's cafe: everything you get comes with a generous helping of spam. Spam was a relatively minor irritation in the past but nowadays the volume of junk email being sent has increased exponentially making it a major problem. Spam now costs businesses $100 billion per year. Millions of messages can be pushed out each day via enormous botnets of zombie computers and those messages are used for any number of purposes. Penny stock recommendations, perpetrating complex pump-and-dump stock frauds, and spreading viruses are a few examples. Spam is also used to sell pirated software and to advertise magical potions that allegedly cure baldness, promote weight loss or even make you completely irrisistable to the opposite sex.
Spam consumes your bandwidth and exposes you to viruses, phishing scams, and obscene material. Spam clutters your inbox. Unlike the Monty Pithon routine it is anything but amusing. MailFrontier Desktop enables you to easily block the unwanted junk and keep your inbox clean.
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MailFrontier Desktop's user interface is plain but functional. From the toolbar, email can be marked as spam or ham. From the same toolbar you access the program's preferences.
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Installation & Setup
MailFrontier Desktop works with Windows 2000 or Windows XP and supports Outlook Express 5.0, 5.5, and 6.0 and Outlook 2000, 2002, and 2003. Installation is extremely easy and MailFrontier Desktop works right out of the box. The setup file places a small toolbar in your mail client and an icon in your system tray.
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MailFrontier Desktop uses a number of techniques to combat spam.
Firstly, it has a Bayesian filter. Bayesian filters calculate the probability that an email is spam based on its content and are adaptive and self-learning. For example, if your ham messages never contain the word "Viagra," then the filter will learn that emails containing that word are probably spam. On the other hand, if you work in a drug store and regularly receive ham messages that contain that word, the filter will learn that emails containing that word are probably not spam. Because Bayesian filters are self-learning, they're able to block a high percentage of spam while blocking only a minimal amount of ham.
Secondly, it has a community-based filter. When a spam email slips through MailFrontier Desktop's net and arrives in your inbox, you have the option to report it. Once an email has been reported by a number of users, MailFrontier Desktop will begin to treat that email as spam.
Thirdly, MailFrontier Desktop has a challenge/response filter that is disbaled by default. If you enable the filter, MailFrontier Desktop will notify senders that the delivery of their email has been delayed until they complete a challenge such as counting puppies.
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MailFrontier Desktop performs exactly as advertised. In my rather limited testing, the program was extremely accurate. Using the default settings it blocked almost all spam without blocking any ham. Unlike some anti-spam solutions that I have tried, MailFrontier Desktop did not slow email delivery.
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Help & Support
MailFrontier Desktop has a reasonably comprehensive context-sensitive Help. Click on the Help button in any screen and you'll be provided with information relating to that screen. No-cost technical support is available via telephone or webform.
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Price to Value
At $29.95 for a 12-month, one-computer license, MailFrontier Desktop is similarly priced to competing products. There are, however, a number of factors that significantly diminish its price-to-value rating. Firstly, MailFrontier Desktop doesn't support Windows Vista. If you plan on migrating to Vista anytime soon, MailFrontier Desktop would not be a good choice especially since Vista's mail client has its own anti-spam filter. Secondly, there are a number of excellent no-cost products available such as SPAMfighter, for example. Thirdly, if you are running any recent version of Outlook, you already have a pretty decent spam filter. Outlook's filter may not block as much spam as MailFrontier Desktop, but it will block enough of it that you'd probably not find a third-party solution to be a worthwhile investment.
MailFrontier Desktop is equally difficult to justify for businesses that run their own mail as desktop solutions are typically more difficult to manage and produce a much lower ROI than server-based solutions.
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MailFrontier Desktop is a solid product that combats spam efficiently and effectively. Should you be using Outlook Express or an old version of Outlook and have no immediate plans to upgrade to Vista, you might wish to give it a trial run. However, if you're using Outlook 2000 or later or have plans to move to Vista, MailFrontier Desktop probably wouldn't be a good choice.
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CA Anti-Spam, McAfee SpamKiller, ChoiceMail, SPAMfighter