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Downloading and installing is a no-brainer. Just follow along as the installation wizard helps you select your spam threshold (we used the default, or average, setting for our tests) and import your address book into your Friends list so that iHateSpam never blocks mail from them. After installation, iHateSpam places a toolbar directly above your Outlook in-box or to the right of your Outlook Express pull-down menus.
Now, when you download new mail to Outlook, iHateSpam automatically scans your in-box and moves suspected spam to its Quarantine folder, where you can examine it to make sure none of your good messages got caught. If the program accidentally snags mail that isn't spam, you can click the Is Not Spam button to restore it to your in-box. Likewise, if an errant piece of spam finds its way to your in-box, clicking Is Spam will remove the message and send a copy to iHateSpam's Learning Network, which analyzes the message and develops rules for updating future spam filters.
Alas, the Outlook Express version isn't as functional. For example, iHateSpam stores suspected OE spam in the Deleted Items folder, where you could easily miss it--bad news if the program flags a legit message by mistake. Even after you tell the program that a certain message is spam, you'll have to manually delete it from your in-box. And when we tried to uninstall the program, it failed to delete the message rules it had installed in Outlook Express to filter spam, so it continued to send messages to our Deleted Items folder without warning us. Clearly, this software is not ready for prime time.
In our initial tests, iHateSpam trapped about 80 percent of the spam we received--about 10 percent less than SpamKiller or SpamCop. But the program's performance improved slightly over time, thanks to Sunbelt's ability to quickly analyze spam. When we first installed the program, it incorrectly quarantined every e-mail newsletter we'd subscribed to; after about a week, iHateSpam had learned to unblock most of them. A new feature, Advanced Filter, allows iHateSpam to detect spam when the sender's (fake) address matches that of the recipient.