ChoiceMail – 100% of Junk Email Gone


Get a lot of spam?  My personal address, noah@coad.net, gets about a 1,000 a week, but I don’t see a single one of them.  If you don’t mind getting spam, this isn’t for you.  If you find junk mail annoying, and the viruses, identify theft (from phishing), and flooding of your inbox that comes with it, read on…

The Problem
We’re rapidly approaching a state in which we’re getting so flooded by junk mail that it makes working with e-mail almost unbearable.  A recent inspection showed that my mother’s e-mail box was receiving 99.8% junk mail, rendering it practically useless.

The longer you have an e-mail address, and the more you share it, the more junk mail you get.  There are businesses that comb the Internet for e-mail addresses and sell them.  I’ve had the same personal e-mail address for over 10 years and use it everywhere, so I’m probably on most the major spamming lists, but don’t see even any junk mail.

The Solution
I originally learned about this app from Carl Franklin who was using it a few years ago.  It is very simple really and highly effective.  It does take just a little knowledge of how e-mail works to use.

ChoiceMail One (the personal home edition) works simply by verifying that the sender is a real human, or some automated system you allow to send you mail.  How does it do this?  It acts as a gateway between your e-mail server (POP3 account) and e-mail client (Outlook, etc).  When you get an e-mail, here’s what happens:

How it Works
If the sender is preapproved, their e-mails are always let through.  If it is a new sender, ChoiceMail holds the mail and sends an automated email reply asking the user to click a link which the user verifies they’re a real person via a Turing test (the classic “enter the code below” question).  If they verify, their original e-mail and all future e-mails are always let through (they never see the automated response again).

Anyone in your contact list is preapproved.  Anyone you send mail to is preapproved.  You can see recent senders and approve any of them.

In my case of receiving almost a 1,000 junk mails a week, this has cut down on 100% of e-mail and let through essentially 100% of the e-mail I want to see.  Once in awhile, when I sign up for some new online service, I need to manually approve the sender since they typically send automated mails.

What it Looks Like
Normally you just leave it running in the background and don’t have to touch it.  Occasionally I like to see what mail is being blocked or need to manually approve a sender (like when I give my e-mail address to a new online service).

I was playing around and I’ve also blocked a lot of domains that are known for sending junk mail, so my actual “Unknown Today” and “Total Spam” is at least twice as much as reported here.  Before blocking the domains, 98% of incoming mail was spam.

Testimonials
Let’s just say I’ve been using it, some industry leaders like Carl Franklin use it, my mother loves it, I’ve got my sister going with it, my wife, and other friends and family are rapidly adopting it.

Using ChoiceMail (Getting Started)
The Personal Home Edition is a onetime cost of $40.  They have a timed trial edition too.  It is some of the best money I’ve ever spent on software.  It is really easy to install and start using it via their setup wizard.  It may take awhile of use to get comfortable with its many setting and options.

One of my favorite options to enable is automatically approving anyone who replies to the Turing test.  By default, when a human responds to the automated reply, they are in a “waiting for approval” state that waits for you to thumbs up or down the request.  I don’t find this additional approval step necessary.  To enable automatic approval, from the “Options menu, under “Preferences…, check the box “Automatically approve senders who respond to a challenge”.

It does support some HTTP web clients, like Yahoo and Hotmail, but works best if you’re using an e-mail client on your computer (like Microsoft Outlook 2003, Outlook Express, Eudora, etc).  ChoiceMail will check your POP3 e-mail account and your client will be configured to check mail through the ChoiceMail localhost server.  It takes some time to feel comfortable with all the settings.

The Ugly
So it sounds all great, right?  But what’s the catch?  Why isn’t everyone using this type of system?  People don’t like getting an automated response asking them to do one verification step the first time they send you mail.  I’ve had family tell me this.  I tell them it is a one-time only step and it cuts back 100% of spam, and they can’t deny the small cost to achieve results like that.  It will block mail from automated websites (like your PayPal account, bank statements, etc) unless you periodically check your ChoiceMail box for these types of mails and let them through.

I’ve found customizing the automated response mail (via the “Options” / “Preferences” menu, “Message customization” tab) to something more personal from me, helps people feel more of a personal connection in the verification process.

Conclusion
If you try it out, let me know via a comment below.  Bill Gates has said that e-mail spam is one of our #1 consumer problems with technology today.  It causes countless viruses and identity theft from phishing, introduces porn to children, and embarrass us with obscene topics and subjects.  It doesn’t have to impact your life and waste your time.  ChoiceMail is a tool that puts the power in your hands to stop it now.

P.S.  I realize this tool endorsement is quite positive.  I am in now way affiliated with DigiPortal, just a happy consumer sharing the news so others don’t have to feel the same junk e-mail pain I’ve experienced. 🙂

Comments (21)

  1. I have a few clients using this service — and they too love it.

    But you missed one cool feature . . . you get special choicemail email accounts that can safely be posted in public. (As opposed your "real" email address).

  2. John Gallagher says:

    THe product sounds great. I’ve been using MailWasher (which also checks mail at the server) but this might be better.

    Do you know if it works under Vista?

  3. Noah,

    I totally agree with your positive endorsement of the technology.  My wife uses ChoiceMail, and I use Qurb.  Both of these products do pretty much the same thing, challenge/response sender verification.

    I have found that Choicemail’s setup is a little more involved, as it runs outside of your email client and needs to be the middleman.  My wife prefers this.

    I prefer Qurb as it directly integrates with Outlook, and you do not have to reenter your authentication information, nor configure your client to hit ChoiceMail instead of the actual email server.

    ChoiceMail DOES excel if you have multiple email accounts where you want SOME of those accounts C/R verified, and some not.  With Qurb, it assumes it’ll be C/R verifying all your email, regardless of the account.

    The conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe that the big spam blocker companies really don’t like this method of spam control because it doesn’t necessitate subscriptions and updates…  Could be wrong, but you never know…

    Reynolds Kosloskey

    http://rkosloskey.blogspot.com

  4. noahc says:

    Blake,

    I didn’t know about the special ChoiceMail e-mail accounts, that sounds cool.  Since my personal account is protected by ChoiceMail, I find it easiest just to use that one address for everything.  It’s cool how ChoiceMail gives you options like that.

  5. noahc says:

    John,

    I haven’t heard of MailWasher and I don’t know if ChoiceMail works well in Vista.  If you try it, please let me know here in the comments.  Thanks.

  6. noahc says:

    Reynolds,

    Cool, thanks for the info.  I hadn’t heard of Qurb.  I spoke with the VP of DigiPortal and they said the next version of ChoiceMail will be more transparent and have a simplified configuration.  For example, it will just listen on the SMTP port instead of being a proxy.

  7. Carolin Coad says:

    Thanks to you, Noah, for setting up ChoiceMail on my computer for me, worrying about junk mail is a thing of the past.  I used to have to wade through a majority of junk mail to read my mail, feeling polluted in the process.  Now it’s neat and clean and easy with no junk mail at all, just the good stuff.  And I owe it all to you…

  8. These are my top 10 favorite tools. Seams having a top 10 list is popular these days, so here are mine.

  9. Midge says:

    Hi Noah,

    I’ve been a very happy ChoiceMail convert for two years to the point where I too have a review on my website + a comparison against its main competitor Qurb.

    You said in your article:

    "It will block mail from automated websites (like your PayPal account, bank statements, etc) unless you periodically check your ChoiceMail box for these types of mails and let them through".

    I can assure you it doesn’t have to! It’s very easy to set up Choicemail "rules" with their powerful permission management functionality based on header, body, sender, subject content etc. – a bit like a firewall can be given rules to allow certain protocols, source addresses etc.

    One of your points I’d like to strongly agree with you on is the success of this product really does depend on the challenge message you send out to people (which on the FREE version cannot be changed – a bit of a downside). You must get that right so people feel comfortable responding to it.

    On a final point, you also comment about ChoiceMail being a possible problem for business. My view is the same permission system is sufficiently good that it *could* be setup to pick up keywords which a business would always expect to be in legitimate e-mails to them (their company name, product names etc.) in the same way as blacklist products try to find words or strings that are indicative of SPAM. That would cut down the number who receive a challenge.

    Midge.

    PS – I’m not connected with Digiportal either, I just think they have a remarkably effective product which turns the whole concept of dealing with SPAM on its head. It’s as effective as firewall for the simple reason it behaves very much like one.

  10. deckie says:

    Choicemail is a great product. I have used it for the past 2 years. Their support is pretty good. The knowledge base is particularly good. However, there hasn’t been an update to the program for at least 18 months. I question if it is still being developed.

  11. noahc says:

    deckie,

    They just released a new version that I’m looking forward to trying.  They tell me it’s much easier and Vista compatible.

  12. Shailesh says:

    Hello

    Just came accross this article while browsing the internet to prepare a report for one of my customers.

    I have been implementing ChoiceMail for the past two years and all of my customers are very impressed and happy.

    In fact, i have seen this small piece of software working better than big names like ‘Mimecast’ and ‘Mail Marshal’

    All my customers are small to mid-sized financial management companies within Mauritius and they are 100% satisfied. Implementation is easy but it requires careful planning – make sure to create the whitelist and existing contacts from the current email system (outlook) otherwise there will be some angry senders out there!

  13. antonio says:

    i want to use and value ChoiceMail

  14. anita swearengin says:

    i recently received a request to verify who i am from a friend’s new email account.  i clicked on the link to verify but keep getting the message:

    Internal Server Error

    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

    Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@theweindruchs.digiportal.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

    More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

    Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Apache/1.3.41 Server at cm.digiportal.com Port 80

    what do i do now????

    anita swearengin – tulsatwoputt@aol.com

  15. John the Nurse says:

    I sent 2 emails to a nurse I work with, Sarah, who has this email service protection feature, provided to her by Noah.  Both times it required I fillout an online form and key in a secret code to activate it.

    It would be really nice if it could remember who I am so I don’t keep having to do this

  16. Cees says:

    A better anti spam program based on the same principle is XToMe (www.xtome.com).

    It’s easier to install and work with. Different security levels of challenges.

    Also free version available.

  17. Mark Nathan says:

    Another program to try out is ChrysanthMailManager. Similar concept. Works flawlessly.

  18. F. C. Jones says:

    ChoiceMail going Subscription!  $19.95 per year (now).

    What do you think?

  19. Adams Ibe says:

    BENEFICIARY CONTRACT #: MAV/ACPC/FGN/GH/2010,

    Swift Code: SCB/GH/IRD,

    A/C #929/605/10456

    AMOUNT# (USD$15M)

    Our Ref: SCB/IRD/CBX/021/10

    Standard Chartered Bank (SCB)

    From the office of Mr.Adams Ibe

    Auditor General, Standard Chartered Bank (PLC)

    Accra Ghana.

    Re: (USD$15,000,000.00) AWAITING TO TRANSFER TO YOUR ACCOUNT AS SOON AS YOU HAVE ACCEPTED TO ASSIST

    Dear El-Nemaky.

    I am Mr.Adams Ibe the Auditor General of Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Since my assumption of office, I have been able to offset most Overdue Contract sums (USD$15M) owed by the Government of Ghana to Foreign contractors in the past years.

    In the process of these payments I discovered through investigation That my predecessor moved out the above-mentioned sum outside but was unable to conclude the transaction before he was removed out of office unaware and the bank codes changed. originated from the balance of over-invoiced sum and Inflated government contracts of which the principal sum had been paid to foreign contractors that executed their contract some

    years ago.

    This fund is now floating in a suspense account of our bank and will be moved by Certified Bank Draft within 48hours in another way bank to bank transfer of perfection of your account coordinates.

    I have concluded all necessary Arrangements for the Funds to an account,Contacting you on this issue became imperative to owing to the fact that the transfer cannot be affected without a second party account and receiving Bank Code and SWIFT numbers above.

    Therefore, what is required from your is trust and honesty. No further documentation, Just to change the ownership to your name as the new Beneficiary and get all the transfer documents in your name No travel is required.

    Transfer will be done as soon as you are capable/TRUSTED to RECEIVE the Fund also it is risk free and i will share the Funds with you (USD$15,000,000.00) 70/30, you will be taking 30% of the total sum(USD$15,000,000.00) and 70% will be for me.

    I will forward an account where my share will be further transferred into, when the money reaches your bank account. At the moment I can only give information that are reasonably able to assist the transaction without jeopardizing my person work or this transaction.

    Please send detail information as below…,

    1 Your Full Names

    2,Your  telephone Number.

    3,Profession

    4,Age

    5,Sex

    6,Marital Status

    7,House Address.

    8,Scan copy of your passport.

    You can email now to indicate your wiliness

    Thanking you in advance for a mutual and fruitful Business association.

    Regards,

    Mr.Adams Ibe

    Auditor General,

    Standard Chartered Bank (SCB)

    Please REPIY TO THIS E adamsibe31@yahoo.com

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    We send this email to look for business cooperation with your good company, If you need a agent to provide you the best service and good rates ,Pls you not hesitate to contact me .

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    VIEWCARGO LOGISTICS (GUANGZHOU) CO.,LTD.

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  21. meetRV says:

    I also consider that I have a few clients using this service — and they too love it.

    But you missed one cool feature . . . you get special choicemail email accounts that can safely be posted in public. (As opposed your "real" email address).

    <a href="http://www.meetrv.com/…/a&gt;