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Free Software: Spam Blockers and Filters for Email

Spam is annoying and time-consuming to get rid of by hand. Spam may also contain viruses and spyware that can damage your computer. But, if you don’t want to spend a lot or any money installing spam blockers of filters, don’t worry. A variety of free spam blockers and free spam filters do exist, while others are available at affordable prices providing you with the best protection against spam and email scams.

Spam blockers and spam filters fall into one of the three categories:

  • Integrated
  • Standalone
  • Online

Integrated Spam Blocker

Integrated spam blockers are the most popular types of spam filtering software. Once installed it adds a new set of options to your existing email application. The options allow you to mark your mail as spam, or not as spam, etc. A number of variations of this software are available, but they all work to towards a common goal of getting rid of your unsolicited emails and virus-laden attachments.

Most integrated spam blockers automatically place spam or suspected spam into a separate folder for you to review or eliminate later. Newer spam blockers can learn to recognize what is spam and what isn’t, and deletes the unwanted mail before it reaches your inbox.

Here are some popular integrated Spam Blockers:

  • CA Anti-Spam Plus - supports up to 3 PCs. Costs $49.99
  • iHate Spam - offers a 30-day free trial. Cost $19.95 (for one year subscription)
  • Spam Bully - provides a 14-day free trial. Costs $29.95

Pros:

  • Simple and easy to use

Cons:

  • Some work only with specific mail applications, such as Outlook and Outlook Express.

Standalone Spam Blocker

Although standalone spam blockers are not as common as integrated blockers, they prove just as efficient. Standalone spam blocker software can easily be installed on to your computer, and allows you to preview your mail on the server before downloading it to your computer. You have to open the spam blocker before checking your email software, however, most filters let you automate this process.

The most popular standalone spam blocker is:

Pros:

  • Not software specific. Works with most if not all email applications.

Cons:

  • You need to launch the blocker before you open your email software.

Online Spam Blocker

Mainly two kinds of online spam blockers exist. One is for business use and the other for personal use. iHate Spam server edition is a common kind of spam blocker used in a business setting by large organizations. iHate Spam works by deleting the unwanted junk mail on the server, so you don’t have to deal with it.

SpamArrest or similar spam blockers are typically used for personal use. SpamArrest works by questioning unknown senders with its innovative Challenge/Response function. The unknown sender will receive the challenge request, where they need to respond. This helps filter out spammers, who haven’t gotten around to automating this response. So, if an unknown sender fails to respond their email lands up in your junk email folder. Senders only have to be authenticated once by SpamArrest, before being added to the safe list. SpamArrest is compatible with most or even all types of email applications, including web based emails.

The most popular online spam filter is:

  • SpamArrest - free for 30 days. Costs as low as $3.12 per month.

Pros:

  • Users only receive emails from known senders
  • Offers other innovative protective features for multiple email accounts.

Cons:

  • Some wanted mail may end up in the junk folder, if the sender doesn’t respond to the SpamArrest challenge mail.
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Spyware has many ways of getting onto your computer, such as:

When you download programs - particularly freeware, or peer-to-peer sharing programs.

More covertly, spyware can install itself just by you visiting certain sites, by prompting you to download an application to see the site properly.

ActiveX controls. These pesky spyware makers will prompt you to install themselves while using your Internet browser