Spam filtering review and compare

Clean up your inbox with these no-cost junk email fighters.
Learn more

03.Troubleshooting and dictionary


You can’t argue with the price when a program is free, but don’t expect the sort of help and support that you would get with a commercial program. So what happens when something goes wrong with your free filter? First thing to do is check the built-in help, if available.

MailWasher Free, SpamPal, Evolution and Mac Mail all scored an excellent rating (90) for their help, which was available within the program itself and was comprehensive and easy to navigate. Though the help for SpamPal has to be downloaded as a separate file. Popfile’s help was just as good, but it was only based on-line so it scored slightly lower at 80.

Bullguard Spamfilter, SPAMfighter Standard, Spamihilator and SpamBayes all scored in the okay range (60) because although most relevant information was present, It was either stored in multiple files or required browsing through the website to locate.

Windows Mail scored even lower at 50, in the borderline range, because its help detail was sparse. Thunderbird’s help was rated ‘poor’, scoring only 40 because it was a remote knowledgebase which we found to be inconsistent.

Of course Mac Mail and Windows Mail aren’t completely ‘free’ — they come bundled with their operating system, which you have to purchase, but they come with the full technical support options of a commercial software package.

Thunderbird and Evolution are both open source programs. They do have support from the developers and open source community, largely through support forums to which anybody can contribute:


  • Email clientA: a program on a computer for sending and receiving email messages over the internet.
  • Ham: Legitimate, or genuine, email so-named to complement spam, or unsolicited email messages.
  • IMAP: Internet Message Access Protocol, a standard for retrieving email messages.
  • Mail server: a networked computer that works as your virtual post office, often located with your ISP (Internet Service Provider).
  • POP: Post Office Protocol — a standard for retrieving email from a mail server.
  • Spam: electronic junk mail also known as unsolicited bulk email.

Join the fight against spam

Another way to help in the fight against email spam is to download the SpamMATTERS spam reporting software developed by The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The software works with Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express and allows you to report spam that has slipped through to your inbox.

Note, however, that SpamMATTERS is not a spam filter in itself and won’t stop you receiving spam, it simply reports spam to ACMA. The information gathered can be used to identify spammers and may even be used in court proceedings against spammers.


Sign up to our free

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.