Friday, October 07, 2005

Spam - a good excuse to move to gmail.

Although I run my own server business, and on it we run MailScanner/SpamAssassin I've found I still end up with a load of spam.

Right now, my spam file is over 120MB, and contains over 17,500 messages, from mid April 2005 to end of September. This isn't even all the spam as a good percentage, lets say 10%, was just deleted rather than saved. Suprisingly few spam emails were caught by Mailscanner as I have to set the limits conservatively for my clients.

I'd noticed that most of my spam isn't addressed to me, so I have an inbox for mail addressed to me and a pending box for mail that wasn't. I checked the pending throughout the day for anything 'good' and deleted or moved into the spam folder anything rotten.

I'd guess that 95% of spam was caught by this simple rule, but that still captured 'good' mail, that was addressed to some_old_mailing_list@mydomain etc which hadn't yet made it on to my whitelist.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I started copying all my mail to my gmail account and trying to use that as my main email client. I did it as I was using a new PC and hadn't set up anything, a browser worked so mail in gmail was the easiest path whilst I sorted out the thousand and one installs, changes and getting on with "work" too.

In Gmail I like the threaded view, I know that was also possible in my email client of choice, Thunderbird, but somehow it's more natural with Gmail.

All the mail was forwarded before any of my filters had worked on them, and I noticed I had almost no spam escape their filter. Right now, looking at the gmail account, I've had 2679 spam emails since the 16th September. It looks like I've had 101 hit the inbox. That's a pretty good detection rate of 97%.

What I miss about Thunderbird.
In Thunderbird I had used the ability to label messages using the keyboard numbers 1,2,3,4 and 5 a lot as it chimmed nicely with my version of GTD.

The ease of doing that is missing from GMAIL, you still have labels but you need to select from a drop down box which is a little slower.

On the other hand, I've replaced 1 (action!) with the Gmail star system (keyboard shortcut s), so have all of those messages to hand very easily.

But what I really like about Gmail is the spam filters. As I say they've caught something like 97% of spam, I can store all the (non spam) mail forever and not use up great chunks of space from my server), and my email client (gmail) is availible wherever I can get to a browser.

I still copy the mail to gmail, but now I have all the pending mail and spam the server catches automatically deleted, just leaving me with mostly good mail on the "real" server, which now serves as the backup.


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