Exchange Anti-Spam Product Review
One of the advantages of being an MCT is that a lot of vendors are anxious to give you their products for free for demonstration purposes and personal use. The idea is that if you like their product they can get a lot of free publicity. In the past I’ve tested GFI’s MailEssentials. Recently I evaluated two anti-spam software packages for Exchange 2003:
I evaluated these products based on their functionality, ease of use, and features…..not based on their pricing. Here are some pros and cons for both the products.
Policy Patrol Enterprise
I found Policy Patrol Enterprise to be fairly easy to configure and I was also impressed by its ability to filter spam. You can also install the software on a Windows XP computer and manage the server remotely. I didn’t like the way it sorts the lists (blacklists and whitelists). Although it lets you sort the list temporarily, it doesn’t let you change the default. One workaround is to export the list, sort it out and then import it back……too much hassle. One annoying thing about this product is that you need to make a connection to the server every time you start the Policy Patrol Administration console, even if you open the console on the Exchange server. This takes some time. I liked the ability to look at the past history that shows all the messages that have been filtered. The ability to filter out Words/phrases and attachments is great but they filtering wasn’t always perfect. You could use the Bayesian filtering for detecting spam and it helps. The product comes with lots of sample filters, which is nice, but the monitoring of messages is rather cumbersome. You have to go to at least 6 different folders to properly monitor the messages. The good thing is that you have the ability to look at individual messages and decide whether to forward, move to another folder or to delete. The worst part of this package was that it doesn’t have an easier method to reject messages at the server from spammers that are on your blacklist. You can reject messages on the Real-time Blacklists but the messages on your own blacklist must go through your e-mail server before you take an action on them. Obviously, this wastes bandwidth and causes administrative overhead.
Open Relay Filter (ORF) Enterprise Edition
The Open Relay Filter (ORF) Enterprise Edition from Vamsoft was also very easy to install and configure. The help file walks you through the installation and setup. The product is simple to configure but doesn’t do quite the job that Policy Patrol Enterprise does in filtering spam. The big advantage is that this product will let you reject messages on your own blacklist, in addition to rejecting messages from Real-time Blacklists. The lists are easy to sort and easy to import/export in XML format. One of the coolest features of this product is the real-time statistics about its activity, as shown below in the screen shot.
Overall, I liked the Open Relay Filter (ORF) Enterprise Edition better. I should also point out that the folks at Policy Patrol Enterprise will only give a restricted version of their product for free that only allows a few accounts to be tested. The Open Relay Filter (ORF) Enterprise Edition gives out a complete product with no restrictions. I found the Open Relay Filter (ORF) Enterprise Edition to be a better overall anti-spam solution for Exchange 2003, compared to GFI’s MailEssentials and Red Earth’s Policy Patrol Enterprise. The fact that they offer a fully functional product to MVPs was a bonus but it did not have any affect on my recommendation. I should point out that even if you are using one of these anti-spam products, I encourage you to use the free Exchange Intelligent Message Filter.
Copyright ©2005 Zubair Alexander. All rights reserved.