Even though spam isn’t my biggest problem with email, if I could cut down on the amount of time I spend on spam, it would at least leave me more time to process other email. The first solution I tried is MailChannels. I know the people who developed it, and I’ve been intrigued by their combination of spam filtering with traffic shaping, especially now that they’re integrating it with Amazon’s EC2 hosting service.
My test setup for MailChannels was through a hosting account at Pair Networks. MailChannels created a “clean pipe” for me to act as a front-end mail server, filtering the incoming mail and then forwarding it on to my Pair mail server. This is pretty much an ideal set up for me. The thing is, I don’t have just a single email account I need to filter spam for, I have several domains with multiple users and mailing lists.
The clean pipe worked like a charm. Unfortunately, Pair optimizes a bit too much for the average user. It doesn’t have enough custom configuration options to allow me to set up the MailChannels server as the primary MX record, keep the Pair mail server receiving mail for my domain (even though it isn’t listed as an MX record, so spammers can’t hit it directly), and tell the Pair mail server to only accept mail forwarded from the MailChannels server. This would be fairly straightforward to configure with your average Postfix/Sendmail/Exim setup, so the problem is Pair, not MailChannels. (Nothing against Pair, it works well for the average case. I just have more advanced demands than most.)
I’ll be trying MailChannels again in the next few weeks with a different test setup, but in the mean time, you may be interested in trying it out for yourself. If you do, I’d love to hear about it.