Tame That Spam!

Everyone hates spam. It seems that as soon as one gets a new email address, the Inbox is already cluttered with unwanted ads and messages.

The good news is that there are several effective strategies you can use to minimize or eliminate spam entirely.

1) Set up an email forwarding address such as general@yourdomain.com which you will use anytime a website or business that you don’t plan to do regular business with asks for your email address. A general email address like this can handle mundane e-mail correspondence without revealing your personal email address to those who don’t really need to know it. I’ve even gotten into the habit of creating a custom forwarding address for each social media platform I use (e.g. pinterest@mydomain.com) so that I can better track the sources of spam and block them. As a general rule of thumb, never give your primary email address to strangers. To learn how to create new email addresses within cPanel, see my earlier post Setting Up Email Addresses with cPanel

2) Set up filters and/or labels  in your email client to direct incoming messages from each of your addresses into a separate folder. Messages sent to general@yourdomain.com will go into one folder, while messages sent to your personal or business address can be sent to their own respective folders. This helps make organizing your email much more efficient and will leave much less clutter in your inbox. Each mail application handles the filtering and direction of incoming mail differently, so be sure to check the documentation specific to your email or webmail client. To learn how to set up labels and filters in Gmail, watch this excellent short video.

3) A mail feature within cPanel called BoxTrapper can also help block unwanted messages. It is a challenge/response email verification system that requires  anyone who is not on your email whitelist to respond to the email it sends back to them before their message is approved for delivery.  But beware: if you sign up for a new online account in order to access a social media site or discussion form , you might not receive the welcome message or email address confirmation email. In this case, you will need to log in to cPanel, click on BoxTrapper, and click on ‘Review Queue’ to manually review, whitelist and deliver the messages that have been blocked. This is often more hassle than it’s worth, especially if you frequently sign up for websites that require a login. Watch the BoxTrapper tutorial to learn more about configuring and using BoxTrapper.

Tame That Spam!4) In addition to strategies 1 & 2, I recommend that you enable SpamAssassin in cPanel to block emails that are highly likely to be spam. SpamAssassin uses a variety of mechanisms including header and text analysis, Bayesian filtering, DNS blocklists, and collaborative filtering databases to identify and filter messages on the server before it reaches your mailbox. If the default filter setting of 5 doesn’t catch all of the spam, you may want to try setting it to 6 to make it a bit more restrictive. Here is a very helpful video on how to enable and configure SpamAssassin within your cPanel account.

From time to time, a legitimate email will end up in your spam folder, so if you didn’t receive that email you were expecting, be sure to check your spam folder for missing messages. It is also always a good idea to whitelist addresses that you frequently communicate with to ensure that these messages will always be delivered to your inbox.

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