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SpamKiller vs. Spam Alert. (Software Review)

Magazine article Information Today

SpamKiller vs. Spam Alert. (Software Review)

Article excerpt

Originally, this review was going to be about SpamKiller. But then I received Symantec's latest version of Norton Internet Security, which comes with Spam Alert. This gave me the opportunity to compare the two products and let readers make their choice.


McAfee's SpamKiller is a stand-alone application that does more than Symantec's Spain Alert. But it needs a lot of improvement before I'd use it exclusively.

Once you install SpamKiller, you need to set it up in your e-mail application (or applications, as it can be used with Hotmail/MSN as well as POP3 and MAPI). This takes some doing and was a bit confusing at first. Once I got the hang of it, I had both my Eudora Pro e-mail program and Hotmail account set up to work with SpamKiller.

When Eudora Pro checked my e-mail, a SpamKiller window appeared listing what it assumed was spam. I read through the list, saw some legitimate e-mail in there, and deleted it from the window. I didn't realize, though, that I'd deleted it permanently from my in box. I'm glad I caught on to this in my first session. I think this information should have been a little more prominent in the product's setup program.

SpamKiller caught more than 85 percent of the messages that were indeed spam--a definite plus since the product comes with thousands of filters that are already installed.

The detected spam can then be deleted, or you can complain to the ISP from which it originated. This is where I came across my second problem with SpamKiller. Although it did figure out how many ISPs may have been used (such as whether a Yahoo! account was used with EarthLink as the ISP), instead of providing the correct email addresses to complain to, it provided generic e-mail addresses such as post,, or Many times there is a different address where you can send spam complaints. More often than not it's just one address, not two or three.

Also, SpamKiller often assumed that "" was a real domain and would set up the complaint to include "," etc. If you sent the complaint to the address(es) SpamKiller suggested and the domain name was bogus, you'd of course get it returned to you as undeliverable.

I played around with this for a while but found SpamKiller to be a totally ineffective reporting tool. I have much better luck with the free SpamCop ( But SpamKiller does a good job of figuring out what is spam and sending it to a separate folder that you can easily set up in your e-mail application. You can also create a "safe list" that includes the e-mail addresses of your friends and other people you trust. The ability to use this with multiple email applications is wonderful.

The messages that SpamKiller catches are kept in a Killed Mail folder that's automatically emptied every 30 days. This is nice. Who doesn't want an in box that's clean and free of spam?

Some might find the $39.95 cost expensive. But if you get a lot of spam, you just might be persuaded to reach into your wallet.

Spam Alert

Symantec's Spam Alert comes as part of the Norton Internet Security 2003 package, which costs $69.95. You get the Internet Security customizable firewall program, Norton Antivirus 2003, Norton Privacy Control, Norton Parental Control, Ad Blocking, and Spam Alert.

Spam Alert goes through your e-mail and adds the words "Spam Alert" to the subject line of suspicious messages. …

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