When the cure turns out to be worse than the disease

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When the cure turns out to be worse than the disease.

Junk e-mail is a serious problem with which everyone is grappling. As an example, Greta, the cat of the sibling of one of our editors, sent someone a cyber thank you card. Based on that single e-card, Greta is now getting several pieces of junk e-mail a day, with the amount slowly increasing. We ourselves are doing even worse than Greta, with the ratio of junk e-mail to good e-mail varying between three to one on good days and six to one on bad days.

We deal with it primarily through use of MailWasher (http://www.firetrust.com/products/mailwasherpro/) (please see the May 2003 issue of the ÆGIS e-journal), which allows us to delete unwanted e- mail on the server. Unfortunately, not willing to leave well enough alone, we recently activated our ISP’s anti-junkmail feature, which captures junk e- mail in a special greymail folder. It saves this greymail for thirty days, and then deletes it, day by day.

This seemed like a swell idea until we got a call from Mayer Nudell of Specialized Consulting Services (http://www.speconsult.com/), publisher of the highly-regarded Traveler’s World Threat Map and Travel Advisories Subscription Service (please see the March 2003 issue of the ÆGIS e-journal) saying that travel advisories were being returned because of a full mailbox. This made no sense, because we read our e-mail with some regularity, and we knew there wasn’t any e-mail sitting on the server.

Then we started getting phone calls from friends and business associates saying the same thing, which told us we had a real problem!

After some fruitless investigation it occurred to us to check the greymail. We had nearly a thousand messages stored, and it appeared that this greymail, of which we were not actually aware, counted against the total e-mail limit, thus accounting for the full-mailbox bounces. We emptied the greymail folder and turned off the junk e-mail filter. Now we have more junk e-mail to filter manually using MailWasher, but at least we are getting the e-mail that we actually want.

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