How to get rid of "spam" (unwanted email messages)?

This is a question that people ask continually. The answer is simple. Don't give your email address to anyone. Don't program it into your browser. Don't set it as your "reply" address. Don't use it in your USENET news group reader. Don't put it on your web site in a form that can be read by people or computer software - use a form that hides it.

Keep your real email address SECRET.

Since you are probably having a problem already, it is obviously too late so here's what to do.

If you are using Outlook or Outlook Express, get rid of it. Those are the two email clients that are targetted by most malware. Not only will they cause you grief, they are probably spamming everyone who ever sent you an email! Use a different email software. There are dozens to choose from.

Ask your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to give you a new email address. It doesn't need to be anything clever since nobody is ever going to see it. It can be something daft like "".

Also ask your ISP to allocate you at least ten "alias" addresses that will "feed" into your main email address. If possible, get your ISP to allocate you with an email server that you can access by yourself.

If they can't do this, sign up with an ISP that can. (expensive) or (cheap).

Set your email "from" address and "reply to" address as one of the "alias" addresses. Set your email program to retrieve mail from your real email address.

Now, if you receive spam addressed to any of your alias addresses, you simply delete that address and replace it with another.

If you have access to your email server, (as with the above ISPs) you can delete and create your email aliases yourself through your web browser. Otherwise, each time you want to change one, you'll have to ask your ISP to do it.

Whenever you "sign up" for a newsletter or similar, you use one of your "alias" addresses, which you can delete if it begins to receive unwanted mail.

An alternative is to use a free email provider such as "Yahoo" to create email addresses. This is not as useful since you'll have to check each one individually. However, it's handy if you travel because you can access them from anywhere.

Now, don't give your secret email address to anyone. Don't program it into your browser. Don't set it as your "reply" address. Don't use it in your USENET news group reader.

If you normally print your email address on your business cards and letters, DON'T. Don't even print an alias address because, if you need to delete it, your printed stationery becomes useless.

Instead, print your email address web page URL like:

On this page put a currently working email alias address. Better still, use a "form" that hides the email address but still allows people to send you an email (see below for a free form).

If the alias address collects spam, delete it and replace it with another. As this page is the only place where you have your email address, it's simple to change. You don't have to get all your business cards and stationery reprinted because the email web page address stays the same!


The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Spam

This book explains how email addresses get "grabbed", how to avoid it and how to minimise "spam" if it happens.

Should I use a service that requires a confirmation from someone?

A few companies offer this type of service. When someone sends you an email for the first time they receive an automatic reply asking them to click on a link to verify that they are bona fide. Unfortunately, if you place an order with a company and they send an automatic reply YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE IT and their autoresponder will not "click on the link" that it receives from your service provider. Chances are that you won't receive your order. Likewise, there's a lot of people (myself included) who can't be bothered to "click on this link". Indeed, we could be inviting spam ourselves by doing it - you can be sure that the SPAM providers have already thought of this!

Some systems require the recipient to type in a word which has been obscured by artistic lines. Exactly the same comment applies. In fact many people use email readers that can't see (or trash) attachments so this system would not work.

So, just to recap, you can totally eliminate spam like this:

Get a web site and email facility. At the time of writing this will cost you £12 p/a for the web server and email server and £10 p/a for your web site URL from

That's just £22 a year to eliminate spam and you get a really easy-to-use web site and email server as well!

Set up your new email addresses. Remember that one of them must be kept secret. Set the mail server so that any mail addresses to a non-existent address at your "domain" goes into a "black hole".

Upload your email form files to your web server. Get them HERE

Stop using your old email address(es).

For each of the mailing lists to which you have subscribed, create a new email alias address and use this to resubscribe. Make sure that your email program is set up to receive mail from all addresses at your domain.

Give your closest friends an email alias address to use. (If this collects unwanted messages later on you simply delete it and send your friends a different one).

Give your business aquaintances your web site email form address and print it on your stationery.

So that's it. You will occasionally need to delete and create an alias address to get rid of spam but you will be virtually 100% spam free!

Note: if all of this seems a bit daunting, you can get Keiron at to set it up for you.

Just a general note on the subject of email addresses. Some of the biggest spammers use software that digs out the major email service providers' addresses (such as and web site URLs (such as It then adds the most common names to make up a list of email addresses which are likely to be in use.

So, for example, "Mary" + "" generates which is probably a real address.

Or "Fred" + "" generates

Poor Mary has probably not exposed her "secret" email address to anyone. However, it's so obvious that she's swamped with adverts for stuff that will enhance the length of a male organ.

For this reason, it's silly to limit your email address to a common Christian name like Mary, Fred, John, Johnny etc. because you leave yourself wide open to the automated spamming software.

In addition, the most common business addresses begin with "info", "accounts", "sales", "webmaster", "enquiries", so these get spammed for no obvious reason. (Well, it's obvious now you know how!)

So be a little inventive with your name. Stick numbers in it and you'll reduce the risk slightly (but there's probably software that can add numbers). Add your surname and you greatly reduce the risk. (not real) is highly unlikely to be "guessed" by any software.

Note that the Internet doesn't differentiate between UPPER and lower case letters so that email address could be typed more clearly as (not real) and it will still work. This is better for business cards and for general clarity.

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