When we read the brochures and reviews of the latest executive toys, we are frequently seduced by promises of total connectivity wherever we are. Once we've laid down our credit cards and opened the box, reality sets in. Apart from the sheer difficulty of configuring these things (which I'll return to some other time) no-one ever mentions the costs of that connectivity. And those costs are even harder to swallow, if you are forced to pay by the byte received, and much of those received bytes are unwanted Spam.
Recently I flicked through a copy of "PC Magazine" purchased somewhere on yet another flight to somewhere else some time ago. I really do lose track! The magazine had an article on Spam filters, and one service stood out as a winner. It was reasonably priced, totally effective with no false positives or missed Spam and needed no training. I decided to investigate.
Some years ago, when there was very little Spam, I'd unwisely registered on a "dubious" site and used my real, precious E-Mail address. Slowly the trickle began, became a stream and is now a torrent where real mails are outnumbered many times by Spam. How could I possibly consider paying high GPRS roaming charges simply to check if I'd been offered those essential performance pills every 30 minutes? Changing my E-Mail address was not an option!
So it seemed there might be an answer
I logged on to www.OnlyMyEmail.com from my laptop. The service offers a free 14 day trial, so after reading through to confirm PC Mag's high opinion of the service, I decided to give it a try. OnlyMyEmail works by checking your existing E-Mail server at frequent intervals. It downloads all received mails and processes them against a set of rules. The details of those rules or how they were developed and are updated is not given, but suffice it to say it unerringly identified every piece of Spam sent me over those 14 days. Just as important, it didn't falsely classify a single genuine E-Mail as Spam, so I developed a high level of confidence I wouldn't miss a vital mail. OnlyMyEmail places mail it classified as Spam in a folder that can be accessed by logging in to OnlyMyEmail's web site using your username and password. You can check and recover falsely classified mails from there if you wish, but after two weeks I decided this was unnecessary. The service also sends a daily E-Mail summarising its actions. I then set my regular Outlook incoming mail server to that of OnlyMyEmail and was rewarded with a whole 14 days of Spam-free E-Mail.
It seemed I'd found a service that not only gave me back my Outlook inbox, but might allow me to finally join that executive jet-setting totally in touch dream community promised by the brochures. I configured my Qtek to check OnlyMyEmail's servers every hour to see if I had mail. And yes, it worked. But I'm never satisfied. I prefer to have my mail at home on my regular PC, but just wanted to "monitor" whilst travelling, giving me the possibility to answer anything urgent. A moment's though led to the idea that if OnlyMyEmail's server could handle IMAP, I could monitor my inbox whilst travelling, but at weekends all my mail would be downloaded as before to my POP3 Outlook PC. A quick E-Mail to OnlyMyEmail's responsive and expert support line answered "yes, we support IMAP". A quick reconfiguration of the Qtek later and I was monitoring my inbox just as I wanted.
Now I am were I want to be. For a very modest charge of $3US per month I have not only a Spam-free inbox, but I can monitor it when I'm travelling without ruinous GPRS charges. It's not perfect. I still can't actually answer E-Mails from the Qtek in spite of the best efforts of OnlyMyEmail's support. My difficulty is some combination of Swisscom GPRS, roaming GPRS, using a different account for outgoing and incoming E-Mails, non-relaying mail servers or even OnlyMyEmail's outgoing servers not working as promised. But even now if I see something urgent, I can find a PC, send a text or even (gasp!) actually telephone an answer, so it's very useful. I'll solve that problem by switching to an ISP that guarantees IMAP and the Outlook mobile extensions but I'll still use OnlyMyEmail to rid me of Spam whatever ISP I settle on.
OnlyMyEmail also provide a web interface into your E-Mail where you can read and answer mails. This is useful in itself if your mail provider doesn't provide webmail. Unfortunately if you reply to mails, they appear to be from your OnlyMyEmail account rather than your "real" address.
The company also offer a heavyweight service aimed at de-Spamming E-Mail for the enterprise. In spite of the problems I've experienced, I wouldn't want to be without it.