Email Filtering and Management

Managing email has grown into a daily challenge for most professionals. While a “fun new” technology in the past, it has evolved into a necessary form of communication for most people in the business world.

Similar to postal mail, email has a plague of unwanted messages targeting users on a regular basis.  Postini (listed below) said that in March of 2008, they processed over 23 BILLION email messages.  84% were unwanted.  That’s a huge number of messages that people shouldn’t have to manage themselves.

These typically come in the form of:

  • SPAM – the abuse of electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages
  • Viruses/Malware – programs intended to perform unwanted tasks on the end user’s computer, sometimes causing damage, sometimes creating avenues for further actions to be taken without the user knowing
  • Newsletters/Subscriptions/Catalogs – users typically subscribe to emails either knowingly, or unknowingly, for things such as daily news, shopping catalogs, event notifications, weather reports and other items that can fill up a inbox, albeit at the user’s request

So how does one manage all this while still communicating with clients, vendors, partners, personal contacts and other entities in an acceptable manner?  I recommend that our customers adopt a process we call “BAM!”  Block, Allow and Manage.

  • Similar to getting vaccines for polio and other unwanted deseases, BLOCK certain unwanted items from ever making it to your mailbox (Note: this doesn’t mean your Inbox in your mail program, I’ll explain later).  If you maintain your own email server, BLOCK it from ever reaching your Internet Connection, or your Server!
  • Choose who you want to be able to send you email, and ALLOW them to send email to your mailbox, or your Server if you maintain one.
  • MANAGE the mail that makes it to your mailbox using filters and rules.


Use a third party service that dedicates 100% of its resources (talent and systems) to blocking unwanted email.  There are several services out there likePostiniMessageLabs and Symantec Hosted Mail Security.  Others can be found at SpamHelp.  The advantage to using a hosted (3rd party offsite) solution is that the unwanted mail doesn’t even make it to your server, or your mailbox.  This reduces your Internet traffic and need to manage the process either yourself, or have your IT staff manage it.  These services can prevent SPAM and Viruses with significant success.  Most guarantee 100% protection from Viruses.

We choose Postini.  We have used them for years with great success.  They were purchased by Google recently, proving that their technology and products are a superior product in the industry.


Choose to allow what you want in with rules, filter tweaking and lists of Approved Senders (whitelists).  For example, I get newsletters from Microsoft on a regular basis, so I have approved sender rules to allow all messages from through to my mailbox.  This lets you then manage your mailbox with the content that you want.


Outlook has a Junk Email capability that has helped me organize the messages that I want in my mailbox.  A mailbox is a collection of email folders and other items, including the Inbox, Junk Email folder, Contacts, etc…  I turn on the feature that ONLY puts messages in my Inbox that are from people in my contact list.  These are customers, vendors, partners, personal contacts, etc…  I want to see these as they come in and be able to respond quickly.  ALL other messages are put in my Junk Mail folder.  This includes email from people that aren’t in my contact list, newsletters, catalogs, etc…  I don’t need to look at these more often that once a day or so.


What does this mean to you?  Get some help.  If you have more than 5 unwanted messages in your Inbox on a daily basis, that’s too many.  If you have an IT Resource that’s qualified, ask them for help.  Obviously, we’d love to help out as well.

Don’t forget…  BAM!

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