I’m a firm believer that individual computer users need to take responsibility and action to keep their own computer clean and healthy. I’m sure you already realize that from my articles about firewalls, anti-virus programs and anti-spyware programs. It’s also true with respect to anti-spam programs.
While I could rely on my Internet Service Provider (ISP) to handle all the anti-spam functions and automatically delete anything it thought was junk email, I’ve seen false positive errors (marked as junk when it wasn’t) and false negative errors (not identified as junk when it really was) too many times to trust any automatic filtering — at least to trust it enough to allow it to automatically delete the emails it thinks are junk.
Murphy’s Law of Email Filtering
The more important an email is, the more likely it is to be identified as junk.
For email filtering, I use a free program called POPFile. I found POPFile in 2003, when USA Today the and Maximum PC magazine both had feature articles praising it. I was very surprised to see that it had received such glowing reviews, especially since the authors still assigned it a low "pre-release" version number. However, I have not found any reason to argue with those reviews.
POPFile is an email classification system, not just an anti-spam program. You receive emails and then show POPFile how you want them to be classified. In fact, on a fresh installation, POPFile has no idea how to classify any email.
You, as the POPFile user, train POPFile to recognize emails in the categories (POPFile’s term is Buckets) that you wish to use. Once you start receiving emails through POPFile, you just open POPFile in your web browser and classify each email into its category — POPFile learns from the "corrections" you make.
POPFile has a number of configurable options, but the most important one is Buckets; you can create the classification Buckets you would like to have. Then, for each individual bucket, you can choose whether (or not) to have POPFile make a note in the email’s Subject line. Just set up a corresponding Rule in Outlook or Outlook Express (in Eudora and Thunderbird, these are called Filters) to file an email, whose subject contains that word, into the folder of your choice.
Getting POPFile installed is easy. There is a very important point to note, however. The installation instructions are on the web site, not in the download file. Read through them before installing — or have them open in your web browser — when you install POPFile. Once POPFile is installed, there are links to help at the bottom of the POPFile window.
Once POPFile is installed, just use your email program as you normally would. The email program will use POPFile as an intermediary, between it and the mailserver. Your email program will check with POPFile for new emails and POPFile will check with the mailserver(s) that you use.
The price is certainly right for POPFile. It’s free. It’s open-source. It’s licensed under the GNU General Purpose license (the GNU GPL), which means that you can use it for free and you can share it with others, too.
The POPFile project is hosted at SourceForge.net, who provides work space, version control, downloading, bug reporting and tracking, and a wiki-based documentation system for many open-source projects — and all the services are for free for open-source projects.
If I could, I would change a couple things in the download package . The only file in the zip file is Setup.exe. I’d like to see a README.txt and/or README.html file also, both pointing back to the installation instructions and Frequently Asked Questions sections on the web site.
You can download POPFile at http://getpopfile.org. Don’t forget to read the Installation instruction.