The best spam filters are the simplest ones, and they don't get much simpler than Spamnix. Unlike McAfee's SpamKiller, this utility plugs directly into an e-mail client (Qualcomm Eudora, in this case). Simply check your mail, and Spamnix removes the spam in a single step. It's very effective, stopping nearly 90 percent of unwanted e-mail in our tests. That's the best performance of any spam filter we've tested since SpamAssassin Pro, which isn't such surprising news, considering Spamnix and SpamAssassin Pro are both based on the SpamAssassin open source code. If you use Eudora and are plagued with spam, this $30 program is worth every penny. In fact, Spamnix is almost reason enough to drop your old mail client and switch to Eudora.
Installing Spamnix is a snap. In our tests, downloading the 1MB setup file took less than one minute via a DSL connection; then we simply followed the install wizard. Unlike SpamKiller, you don't have to reboot your system to complete the process; simply quit Eudora, relaunch it, and you're done. Note: Users of older versions of Eudora (3.5 and 4.0) may need to contact Qualcomm to download specific point upgrades of Eudora that are compatible with Spamnix.
After install, Spamnix creates a folder where it stashes spam so that you can examine it before deleting it.
Spamnix's interface is also simplicity itself. The utility adds four buttons to Eudora's toolbar--one each for accepting or rejecting messages, another that lets you customize the filter, and one that links to Spamnix's tech-support Web page. The app also adds a folder where it stores suspect spam. Simply check your mail as usual; Spamnix scans the messages and places spam into that folder. In our tests, Spamnix caught 90 percent of the junk mail and incorrectly tagged only a handful of messages--easily the best performance we've seen in a spam filter to date.
Spamnix's feature set is bare-bones, but that's OK--a good antispam filter shouldn't require much interaction. When a piece of spam manages to sneak by Spamnix and land in your in-box, you simply open the message and click the Reject Message button. Spamnix will then block all future messages from this sender (however, you'll have to manually delete the message in question). Similarly, if it catches something that isn't spam, with a few clicks, you can add the sender's address to your white list, contacts whose correspondence you will accept. Unfortunately, you'll also need to move the cleared message to your in-box yourself--an unavoidable limitation of Eudora's application interface, according to Spamnix.
When a piece of spam does slip by Spamnix, you can create a filter to block future mail from that sender's address, its domain, or any messages with the same subject line.
While Spamnix gives you the ability to create new filters to accept or reject mail based on the message's return address, domain, or subject, these filters may not add much protection to the program's own algorithms. For one thing, spammers usually fake or vary header information to try to avoid filters. But also, Spamnix Software is constantly tweaking its product; there were six small upgrades during the course of this review, most of which were behind-the-scenes improvements to the antispam algorithm.
One upgrade, however, added a minor glitch during out tests: upon upgrading Spamnix, Eudora lost two of Spamnix's four buttons. Reinstalling them is a simple drag-and-drop process, but we had to contact tech support to find out what happened.
The Spamnix Web site contains answers to most questions you might have. If you have a question about Spamnix that the site doesn't answer, you have only two options: send e-mail or call the toll number. In either case, you'll reach the guy who wrote the program; as of the time of this review, Spamnix was still a one-person operation. We got our e-mail queries answered in less than two hours and reached Barry Jaspan (a.k.a. Mr. Spamnix) immediately when we called. Support doesn't get more personal than that.
Spamnix is so simple that you probably won't need much help. If you do, your options are limited to a Web support center, e-mail, or a toll call.