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POPFile, the best free spam filter bar none

with 5 comments

While I find Gmail’s spam filter pretty adequate, for people with POP email accounts, or even worse, POP accounts that have to be visible on the web (like my address), fighting spam can become quite the nightmare. Even with some server-side software setup, spammers can learn the software’s filtering behavior and bypass it easily. Just the same thing happens with blacklists.

Say hello to POPFile, an open-source automatic mail classification tool that just works (after some training).

I can’t remember why exactly, but I stopped using POPFile sometime in the last two years, perhaps spammers stopped liking my address and I saw no use for it anymore. Digging out through TechSpot’s archives I found that I first recommended POPFile back in 2003. Now, I have been using it again for the past few months and after 3-5 days of training, the software is smart enough to tell between actual email from spam around 96% of the time.

In fact, POPFile works in such a way that you can configure various “buckets” or categories so it can classify your email in Outlook or any other desktop application you use upon delivery. Did I mention it’s cross-platform, too?

Out of the dozens of spam filters out there, only a handful are free and look trustworthy enough to me. POPFile has not changed much in the last few years, but that’s not a bad thing necessarily. Even with its rudimentary looks and slightly documentation, it’s a huge time saver once set up. Give it a try, put it to work, and let me know if you like it.

Written by Julio Franco

February 11th, 2008 at 2:58 am

5 Comments so far

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  1. The only problem with POPFile — and it’s a big one — is training. There’s no way to simply click a button and say “This is spam”; you have to open a Web page, find the message, and mark it. Really, really annoying.


    11 Feb 08 at 7:06 am

  2. I have to agree that bothered me for quite some time in the past, but now I have set it up in Outlook so POPfile’s CP is one click away without using a web browser.
    Not as seamless as an integrated “spam/not spam” button but once trained it’s nothing that will bother you much.

    Julio Franco

    11 Feb 08 at 10:20 pm

  3. Try SpamBayes in Outlook, it’s also a great freeware, and it has the Spam/Not Spam buttons in the toolbar to make it easy to correct the (very) few mistakes. (I don’t get false positives ever, but occasional Unsures and a few false negatives).


    6 May 08 at 11:56 am

  4. Try AntiSpam, a ultra light spam filter

    Created entirely in assembly language (yes, only 88Kb!)

    Protect unlimited number of pop3 email addresses (gmail mail included)

    Scan the mail header AND also a number of lines from the mail body

    Can check all hosts found in the mail header against DNSBL (“Real-time Blackhole List”)

    Alert on receiving any new message or only when receiving a good message plus many more features…

    AntiSpam uses UIDL extensively. This key feature is not present in many spam filters, wich can lead to wrong inbox operations with them!


    15 Mar 09 at 10:33 am

  5. With popfile in combination with IMAP noone has to train with extra tasks. Simply move the wrong sorted mails into the right folders and popfile learns from that.


    8 Aug 09 at 9:26 am

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