Q: I get too much junk mail (or “spam”). What can I do about it?

Tech Q & AA: Junk mail is probably the most annoying problem that plauges all of us who use e-mail. There is unfortunately no magic bullet to stop it all. Most of us need to follow a few basic rules and perhaps additional software to help keep junk mail under control.

The first thing to check is whether or not your e-mail provider filters mail at their server. Most E-mail servers now have some sort of anti-spam filtering available. However, not all of them are on by default, or they may filter junk mail at a very low level. So make sure you are using the filtering available at your server at the highest level you feel comfortable with. Each e-mail server is different, so you’ll need to check with your e-mail provider for more details. For some people with light e-mail loads, server filtering may be sufficient to keep junk mail at a minimum.

Some people recommend that you try to keep your e-mail address “safe” by not giving it out very much in order to keep it off spammers lists. But this is easier said than done, and once your address is on a list, you’re pretty much always going to be on spammers lists. This is especially true the longer you’ve had your e-mail address. So while it can’t hurt to be careful where you use your e-mail address and to whom you give it to, ultimately this strategy can’t by itself stop the flow of spam.

Ultimately, for those of us who use our e-mail address a lot or have had it for a long time, we may need to resort to using anti-spam software on our computers. While anti-spam filtering on your server may be effective, it can only do so much for users who receive a lot of spam. For example, while my own e-mail server does catch a lot of spam, a lot still does get through. I filter the remaining spam using software on my laptop.

Some e-mail programs have built-in anti-spam technology. For example, Microsoft Outlook for Windows and Apple Mail for Macintosh users both have junk mail filtering technology. Again, this software may be enough for some users, but for those that need more filtering, 3rd party software may be useful. Very simply, for Windows users, I recommend SpamBully. For Macintosh users, I recommend SpamSieve.

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