I have been to Hell.

I have waded knee-deep through spam, surrounded by pillars of flame. I have seen the spam demons listening to their free iPods and pedaling their “discount meds” while riding flaming chariots adorned with the symbol of the cheap inkjet cartridge. I have shrieked in horror at the variety and volume of mass spam.

At first I tried to fight the demons. I installed programs with names like “SPAMStopper” and “AntiSpam 2000.” They worked to pick off the odd spam message, but the minions of Satan are many and the vast majority of spam managed to slip through. I tried creating filters to block certain keywords. This worked for a few days, but the minions of Satan are clever and they know how to substitute numbers for letters and other new and inventive ways to get around such filters.

I have been to a place where I had completely given up hope. That was, until I saw a glowing oracle in the distance. The oracle called itself ChoiceMail and it promised to help me fight the demons. I almost walked away. There had been many before it that had such claims, but something compelled me to give ChoiceMail a chance. One last stand against the forces of evil. One last attempt to make the world a better place for everyone.

With ChoiceMail at my side, I began my brave fight against the spam demons.

Setup
While the installation of ChoiceMail is quite simple, the setup can be laborious, particularly for those who have multiple e-mail accounts. It takes some work adjusting a few settings to get everything working properly, but it is well worth the effort once setup is complete. This may scare off some of the less-savvy computer users, but for anyone that spends the majority of their waking hours in front of a computer screen, the setup should not be too difficult, and the payback is well worth it.

How it works
ChoiceMail works as a sort of middleman between your mail server and your e-mail client. Rather than downloading messages directly from your mail client (Outlook, Eudora, Thunderbird, etc.), ChoiceMail downloads the messages from your server and your e-mail client then retrieves the messages from ChoiceMail.

One of the first things you do when setting up the program is to create a whitelist. The whitelist is a list of all the e-mail addresses that you want to accept e-mail from. This is achieved by importing your address book or contact list.

ChoiceMail also complies a blacklist which is, of course, a list of e-mail addresses that are not allowed.

Everyday Use
After everything has been configured, you are ready to begin using your e-mail normally. Anyone from your whitelist who sends you an e-mail will come through normally. Anyone that has an unknown e-mail address will be sent an e-mail asking them to register with you. Once the registration e-mail is received, the user is verified and moved onto your whitelist. If an e-mail address is not registered within a number of days (set by the user), the user’s e-mails are automatically deleted. Additionally, any e-mail you send out will automatically update your whitelist with that person’s e-mail address.

Users also have the option of manually adding e-mail addresses or entire domains to both their whitelist and blacklist in advance to skip the registration process altogether.

In Conclusion…
ChoiceMail even has a nifty feature where it tells you what percentage of your messages have been spam since you started using the program. My percentage, after a month of use, has held steadily at around 66 percent.

The only complaints I have gotten about ChoiceMail would be from a few acquaintances of mine – friends who have gotten new e-mail addresses or others who weren’t in my address book initially have displayed outrage at having to validate their identity to an old friend. Any user will encounter some stubborn reactions from a few friends or family members, but it’s a small price to pay for a squeaky-clean inbox.

In short, the seas of flame have receded and we herald the promise of a brand new day. While my battle has come to a close, the battle of others is just beginning. I may have been freed from the hellish hordes of spam, but there are many who are still trapped. I, for one, am not going to take my newfound freedom for granted. I will help the meek and the suffering by spreading the word about ChoiceMail. The more people using this application, the more brave soldiers who join our cause, the stronger we become. One day we will purge the last demon from this Earth and we will all be free of their poisonous e-mail forever.

Or until they find a way to get around whitelist-based systems, of course.