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Beginners Guides: Stopping Spam e-Mails

Beginners Guides: Stopping Spam e-Mails - PCSTATS
Abstract: According to one recent opinion, over 45% of all email sent over the Internet is unwanted and uninvited.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Nov 27 2006   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Working with POPfile

For the purposes of this demonstration, we will be creating a new folder in Outlook Express (or any other mail client, providing it supports creating message rules) called 'spam' then creating a message rule to ensure that anything POPFile classifies as spam is sent to the spam folder and not the inbox.

Open Outlook Express and create a new folder called 'spamcan' by right clicking on 'local folders' and selecting 'new folder.'

Now go to 'tools\message rules\mail' and create a new message rule with the condition 'where the subject line contains certain words' and the action 'move it to the specified folder.' The subject line setting should be

[spam] And the folder is spamcan


Now download and install the 0.20 version of POPFile from Extravalent's website.

You will be prompted to create 'buckets' during the install process. A bucket is a category that POPFile uses to classify incoming email based on its contents. You should create the 'spam' bucket and at least one more, depending on whether or not you wish POPFile to filter your regular email into separate categories. The more buckets you create, the longer it takes to train POPFile correctly.

Once POPFile is installed, have it run in the background. Double click on the octopus icon to bring up the POPFile interface. POPFile will begin filtering your email. Note that until you begin teaching the program what emails constitute spam, it will not attempt to actually sort at all, but simply pass all mail through to Outlook Express.

The history tab is where you do your teaching. POPFile will record all mail from the last few days here. As soon as you receive mail, go to this screen and reclassify the mail into one of your 'buckets' using the drop-down box and the 'reclassify' button. The program will take note of the contents of the email and how you classified it and use this knowledge to begin the sorting process. It will now attempt to sort all subsequent messages based on this new knowledge.

When POPFile sorts email, it adds the bucket name to the subject line of the email, so a spam message with the subject 'make $$$ fast' would appear as '[spam] make $$$ fast' in your inbox. Because of the message rule you created, this email would promptly be dumped in the spamcan folder.

For the first little while, POPFile is going to incorrectly sort a LOT of messages. Be prepared to keep teaching it by using the 'reclassify' button and the drop down boxes in the history tab. The more email it sorts, the better it will get, until your assistance is no longer necessary. The 'buckets' tab shows the current success percentage of the program.

POPFile has a few other features which you can find through the manual and attendant forums (the links are at the bottom of the interface page). After using this combination for a week or two, you should find that your spam problems are ironing themselves out nicely.

After using the POPFile method with Outlook Express, as detailed above, 80% of 185 emails have been correctly identified over 2 weeks, starting from scratch. In the last 5 days, accuracy has been more like 90% as POPFile learns what is [spam] and what isn't.

[Update:] After about two months of using POPfile we've come to find it isn't really able to handle email accounts that get lots of mail, as in 1000+ emails a day. With all the correspondence for PCstats, Viruses, and Spam that the half-dozen email address I use get, I've found POPfile tends to crash after about 1500-2000+ emails have been processed in one or two days. This is especially the case if you forget to clean out the list of messages that POPfile uses for categorizing, and is usually indicative of a really long wait getting into the POPfile UI where this is done.

Sadly, while I will miss POPFile sorting out all the Spam I get from the Work emails that come in, I'm going to try another option that can handle a couple thousand emails every few days. POPfile worked really well at sorting through the messages - and in fact achieved 90-95% accuracy, but I think it is better suited to slightly lower email volume than I'm blessed with. Now, for the rest of you - please do us all a favor and update your virus protection software. Do your part to stop the spread of Virusmail.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Stopping Spam e-Mails
 Pg 2.  What Makes Spam Tick?
 Pg 3.  Techniques to Avoiding Spam
 Pg 4.  How to institute message rules
 Pg 5.  Filtering with Message Rules
 Pg 6.  Spam Blocking/Filtering Software
 Pg 7.  — Working with POPfile

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