A recent report from McAfee revealed that spam in the first quarter of 2011 dropped to half of what they were a year ago. However that's still 1.5 trillion spam messages being sent per day, which is three times the number of legitimate email messages that are sent. With this in mind a free spam filter is a great way to ensure the messages that hit your inbox are actually legitimate. Here's five of our favourites.
BullGuard Spamfilter 8.7 (64-bit)
BullGuard Spamfilter is a junk mail filter that uses a combination of techniques to keep your inbox free of spam.
The program integrates with Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird and Windows Mail, for instance, and scans all your incoming emails looking for messages that it recognises as spam, or fraudulent phishing attempts.
Spamihilator 0.9.9.53 (32-bit)
Spamihilator is claimed by its authors to remove more than 98% of spam before it gets into your inbox. We're not sure that everyone will see that level of decrease, but there's no doubt that Spamihilator is packed with technology to help you keep the tide of junk at bay.
The initial configuration process is easier than we expected. The setup wizard launched, detected our copy of Outlook 2007 and configured it to use Spamihilator in just a few seconds (and it'll do the same with Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Eudora and many other email programs).
Install SPAMfighter and it'll immediately integrate with Outlook (2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007), Outlook Express (5.5 or later), Windows Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird 3.0. It'll then check new messages as they arrive, and any that are identified as junk will automatically be moved to the spam folder.
SPAMfighter uses sophisticated technology to separate the spam emails from your regular messages, and so for example it can even recognise spam sent as a picture. It'll also automatically import your address book into a whitelist of addresses that it knows are good, and emails from these people will never be marked as spam.
MailWasher Free 6.5.4
MailWasher Free is a capable spam filter that uses a variety of techniques to keep your inbox free of spam.
Bayesian algorithms, for instance, analyse incoming emails and quickly learn to distinguish spam from your legitimate emails. External blacklists of known spamming addresses will block more junk. You can create blacklists of your own, add friends email addresses to a white list to ensure their emails will always get through, then build additional customisable filters to mop up any remaining spam.
Comodo AntiSpam 188.8.131.52
Conventional spam filters try to detect junk mail using a variety of techniques. They'll look at the sending address, perhaps the email server, check the subject and body for key words, maybe compare the message with a database of known spam emails. Yet it's still all very hit and miss: some spam will always get through, and genuine emails will occasionally be blocked.
Comodo AntiSpam does things differently. If someone you don't know sends you an email, then you won't see it at first: the program steps in first, and sends them a message. They'll be asked to type in a password that's displayed in an image, and reply with the result. A real person can do this easily, and as soon as the reply is received then you'll see their original email (and all other messages from them, in future). Spambots have no way of replying, though, so junk mail is automatically filtered out.