iHateSpam 3.2 $19.95 Sunbelt Software www.sunbelt-software.com Rating: 2 CPUs
A spam filter is practically a necessity for anyone with an email account. A good filter can mean the difference between wading through an ocean of unsolicited commercial email and having quick access to your important messages. But iHateSpam, a spam filter for Outlook and Outlook Express (I tested it primarily with OE) misses the mark.
iHateSpam (which we first reviewed in February 2003's issue on page 70 as part of a spam-killer roundup) adds a series of buttons to your email client's menu bar. The program filters incoming email, comparing it against a database of phrases commonly found in spam. It doesn't use Bayesian filtering, arguably the best filtering method, but uses a preset list of rules that's automatically updated periodically. There's a button that submits missed junk mail to a "learning network" that can ultimately lead to better filtering within the program. In my tests, iHateSpam caught about 75% of spam--not nearly enough.
The program's interface is its biggest liability. For example, when iHateSpam misses a piece of junk mail, you can highlight the message and press the Is Spam button. But you can only do this one message at a time. In addition, when you click the button to add a single message, a window flashes and disappears before you can read it. Worse, you have to restart the email client after changing almost any of iHate- Spam's configuration options, such as filtering rules and mail-quarantine actions.
The program also offers a couple of features for dealing with spammers. A Bounce button sends a bogus "invalid email address" message back to the spammer. The Report button is designed to send a complaint to the spammer's ISP, but in my tests, the program was invariably fooled by forged headers, sending reports somewhere other than the originating ISP.
iHateSpam, $19.95 with a 30-day free trial, is built on sound ideas, but the implementation leaves something to be desired.
Reprinted with permission from Computer Power User magazine.