ClearMyMail Spam Blocker

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ClearMyMail Spam Blocker
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • No false positives during our test, OS and program independent

Cons

  • Expensive to use for more than one or two mailboxes

Bottom Line

If you are fed up with spam, then ClearMyMail is the business. It stops spam in its tracks and, from our experience, does so without causing the almost as worrisome headache of rejecting valid emails without good cause. It is simple to set up for POP3 account holders, but offers lots of control if you want it. Some ISPs perform spam filtering and so only a handful of unwanted e-mails get through. ClearMyMail is probably overkill for this fairly rare type of user. Apart from not supporting webmail (yet), the service does introduce one small unknown. All e-mail is being run through not one but two services, namely the ISP providing the account and ClearMyMail's, which are two possible points of failure. This wouldn't worry most people, but it's worth being aware of.

Would you buy this?

Please note prices is in $US.

ClearMyMail is an antispam system that can, with almost no effort or complex configuration, stop all unwanted e-mail without suffering false positives.

Antispam systems come in three forms—software-based clients that live on a specific PC, server-based ones that work from inside a network and external services such as ClearMyMail. This last category is currently not served by many companies, but it is sure to grow.

Deciding which one to adopt depends on the number of users being supported, the operating systems/email clients (including mobile ones) being used and whether accounts are POP3-, server- or webmail-based. Standalone users will benefit from the ClearMyMail approach; corporate users have very different needs. Small to medium businesses may benefit depending on their needs.

We've been using ClearMyMail it without a hitch for two months.

Instead of loading an antispam program on a PC and then setting up filtering manually, ClearMyMail works as a hosted service, intercepting e-mail from a subscriber's ISP. That's attraction number one—it protects the e-mail account, not the email client running on a particular PC, so it works on any PC, any OS (including mobile ones such as BlackBerry) and any POP3-based client program used to access that account.

Attraction number two is that the service works. Prior to using ClearMyMail, the account we configured it to protect was receiving up to 10 spam e-mails a day. After applying ClearMyMail, that figure dropped to zero, and has remained at zero ever since.

So how does ClearMyMail weave its magic? The company claims a "unique 18-stage filtration process" is applied to each message before it is forwarded, but the real innovation of the system is much, much simpler, and is based on whitelisting.

After a subscriber has set up forwarding through the ClearMyMail server by entering POP3 account details, the server forwards a configuration message listing all e-mails recently received on that account, asking that the user "allow all" email from a particular sender, "block all" from that sender, or "allow once" or "block once" from that sender on this occasion only (a precautionary setting for e-mails whose provenance is uncertain).

Once the legitimate senders have been selected and that information uploaded to ClearMyMail, the subscriber has in effect told the system which senders not to block, allowing the system to figure out which should be blocked.

These permissions can be manually adjusted though the ClearMyMail web interface; specific contacts can be uploaded to speed up the learning process, something that might be worthwhile if you have more than a few dozen.

Ingenious as this sounds, there's obviously more to it than whitelisting. From only a few dozen permissions, the ClearMyMail server was able to work out that e-mails on similar themes (earn more money, buy Viagra and so on) should simply be junked without asking for a permission to be set, thereby avoiding the subscriber having to spend as much time choosing which e-mail to receive as reading the legitimate stuff. After a few weeks, it worked pretty much transparently, bothering us only every now and again regarding a particular sender.

Relying on whitelisting alone would be dangerous: what if a legitimate user inadvertently forwarded a dangerous file? ClearMyMail has an anti-malware filter for such occasions.

Gratifyingly, the ClearMyMail system didn't suffer a single false positive. This was a personal e-mail account with a limited number of legitimate senders so it's hard to say how well it would have coped in a small business situation where significant numbers of legitimate e-mails were being received from persons unknown. However, it appeared very sure-footed.

Multiple email accounts

The company does offer to provide quotes on multiple e-mail inbox protection with discounts of 25 per cent for every new inbox. Given that it costs $US29.95 a year per account protected, ClearMyMail could become relatively expensive for more than a couple of accounts. However, the company has said it is looking at this—customised quotes are offered on application.

Beyond this bias towards protecting single e-mail accounts, the system is also designed to work with POP3 e-mail. Webmail accounts won't work unless they can be run through a POP3 conversion service first.

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