Spam Buster review

£8.5
Price when reviewed
From the outset, the primitive interface of Spam Buster has a dated feel. Unfortunately, that’s matched by much of its feature set, and it certainly doesn’t compare well with contemporary anti-spam options. It’s not helped by the sledgehammer tactics, either: by default, non-plain text messages are marked as spam, siphoning off every HTML email. It also assumes that a single misspelled word on the subject line makes for spam. Worse, by attempting to cover all possible bases (black/white listing, keyword filtering, language filtering, domain checking, and so on) Spam Buster becomes unnecessarily complex to configure. It requires much more ongoing tweaking than a Bayesian filter such as POPFile (popfile.sourceforge.net), which works effectively after a week or so and is free.

Nor can it match the out-of-the-box success of something like InBoxer (www.inboxer.com), which has a negligible false-positive rate from the word go. Spam Buster flagged just about everything as spam during our initial testing, but despite our best efforts, we never once managed to get the false-positive rate down below a disappointing 9.8 per cent. The A-Listed F-Secure Internet Security Suite had a false-positive score of 2.7 per cent when tested, and the Outlook-integrated InBoxer just 0.4 per cent.

Where we can praise Spam Buster is for its excellent statistical reporting: pie charts of spam percentages, graphs showing spam trends, users and domains that have spammed you most, and even a historical archive of all spam received with details of dates, senders and subjects. But even if the spam detection itself wasn’t so over-zealous, these historical logs are useless without a built-in search function or an export facility. There’s no mail-client integration either, as Spam Buster is a standalone application polling your mailboxes, displaying them for assessment before deleting from the server and firing up your mail client for spam-free collection.

But even if you accept this additional mail-process layer, it’s beaten to the punch by the far superior MailWasher (www.mailwasher.net). Spam Buster can poll only a maximum of 12 POP3 mailboxes (no webmail support here) – in itself something of a limitation, but one that’s made more serious because you can’t poll them simultaneously. Given this, it’s quicker to delete spam from your inbox using the delete key.

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