At OurChurch.Com we provide web hosting services for thousands of organization and that includes email services for many of them. With nearly 75% of all email message traversing the interwebs being spam these days, it’s a major problem, consuming time and resources and putting users at risk for viruses and scams. It’s also an issue we’re asked about frequently.
Here’s an in-depth explanation of how to combat spam, including…
4 Recommended Ways to Reduce the Spam Email You Receive
1) Get your email address off the web.
A lot of spammers get their lists using bots that scour the web for email addresses. Don’t put your email address online anywhere.
- Do a Google search for your email address to find pages where your email address has been published.
- If your email address is shown on pages of your website, replace it with a link to a contact form.
- If your email address is shown on pages of other sites, contact the owner and ask it to be removed.
This will not stop the spam, but it will reduce the chances of your email being added to new spam lists.
2) Adjust settings in your server-side spam filter.
Many web hosting companies provide some spam filtering tools for their hosting clients. Login to your control panel and check to be sure the spam filter is turned on and has the optimal settings for your organization.
At OurChurch.Com we use SpamAssassin. If you’re an OCC hosting client you can login to your cPanel control panel and look for the SpamAssassin settings in the mail section. SpamAssassin allows you to adjust the filtering level between 1 and 10 with 5 as the default.
You can lower the number to filter out more spam, but there are several problems with this:
- You increase the likelihood for false-positives, legitimate email being mistakenly identified as spam and blocked.
- Your selecting that setting for all email accounts @YourDomain. Even if you’re ok with not getting some legit mail in the effort to reduce spam, not everyone in your organization may agree. For that reason, it’s probably better to be less aggressive in your filtering at the server level.
- Messages flagged as spam by server-side filters are usually left on the server in spam folder. The first problem with this is most people don’t check the messages in this folder. The second problem is that spam builds up and counts against your disk space allocation, so you could eventually run out of space for your website, media and legit email.
When it comes to server-side filtering, the bottom line is that it can help eliminate some spam, but it’s not going to be your most effective option.
3) Import your mail into a web based email service that has good filtering.
I use Gmail for my work and personal email. The benefits of using Gmail are that…
- Gmail enables me to import email from multiple email accounts
- It enables me to set the from address so mail sent from Gmail comes from my work or personal email address.
- Gmail has an excellent spam filter. I estimate that only about 1% of spam end up in my inbox.
- Unlike a computer-based spam filtering program, I don’t have to worry about whether my subscription is filtering software is up to date.
- Gmail puts all messages in thinks are spam into a spam folder which I can easily scan any time I want if I want to make sure it hasn’t mistakenly filtered out a legit email.
I have not used Hotmail, YahooMail or other online email services much recently, so it’s possible they can do the same things just as effectively.
4) If you insist on using email software (like Outlook) that runs on your computer and downloads email to your computer, buy spam filtering software for your computer
Because I don’t personally use or recommend this option, I can’t recommend anything specific here.
How big a problem is spam for you personally and your organization? What steps have you taken to combat spam? Which have you found to be most effective?