When Written: April 2009
With any email server the problem of spam and how to filter it is always an ongoing one. After trying various solutions I favour the excellent Cloudmark Exchange Server solution. The only drawback with this is that the detected spam can either be deleted or forwarded to a spam folder on a users account. This means when they are running remotely with a laptop this folder has to synchronise as well as the users’ inbox so it will download all the spam from the exchange server, not so much filtering more sorting.
A much better solution would be to filter the worst of the spam before it gets sent to the users email client. Exchange has a free service that you can enable called intelligent Messaging Filter or IMF for short. This works pretty well but lacks easy tools for the day to day running of it and building white lists is done by editing XML files. To resolve this limitation and to add a lot of extra tools Michael Gottschling of N2Nets Ltd ( www.n2nets.com ) built an add-in called SmartIMF, which after the trial period, I paid £45 for.
This program not only gives the administrator a frontend for adjusting the IMF settings as well a sort-able list of the blocked Spam but it also produces for each user an HTML email showing what emails were caught as spam with an option to release a particular one and also to add it to the white list. This simple add-in extends the usefulness of IMF enormously and means than the few Spams that do sneak through get caught by Cloudmark and this means a manageable amount for the user to check.
SmartIMF admin screen is an easy way to tame the Intelligent Message Filter in Exchange
Having got a great and reliable Anti Spam solution one day our aged Exchange server required a chkdsk to be run after a reboot. When this chkdsk took most of the day to run the writing was on the wall that the hard disc raid was in need of some new drives, the other option was to upgrade to exchange 2007 on a new box, a job I had been meaning to do for some time. So the credit card was dusted off and in the best New Labour tradition we decided to ‘spend our way out of trouble’. The new Dell box duly arrived and I set about installing Windows 2008 and Exchange2007 on it.
The process is somewhat involved as both products are so ‘locked down’ for security that almost nothing works and the install process is one of installing several services or enabling some other functionality until it begins to live. This process is helped along by the very good install scripts that point you in the right direction to complete the next stage.
Eventually everything was up and running and I transferred the first mailbox to the new server. The next stage is to move the excellent Cloudmark anti-spam service onto it and then with all the mailboxes moved across the old exchange server can be removed.
Article by: Mark Newton
Published in: Mark Newton