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ClearMail FAQ

How does ClearMail block spam?
Very simply, it uses the whitelist method for blocking spam. With a few button clicks you can set up your own whitelist of authorized "mail senders". Once the whitelist is set, all incoming messages from people in your whitelist are delivered to your Inbox. This gives you 100% control over who can deposit e-mail in your Inbox.

What happens to mail from people who are not on my whitelist?
E-mail from individuals not on your whitelist is normally placed in your spam folder. Your spam folder is automatically set up when you install ClearMail. Most people check their spam folder a couple of times a day. It only takes a minute or so to identify any real messages from people not in your whitelist yet, these can be moved to your Inbox and automatically added to your whitelist with one click. Everything else in your spam folder can be deleted with just a few mouse clicks.

Why a whitelist?
We studied all the different methods for blocking spam and weighed the pros and cons of each. We found that the whitelist method had the most benefits with the fewest drawbacks. Our research included real world experience and looking into various studies regarding anti-spam techniques. Blacklists and content/heuristic filters, two of the more popular anti-spam methods, are inherently unable to block all of the spam coming into an organization. The various filter methods also require frequent adjustment and have unacceptable rates of false-positives (i.e. legitimate mail flagged as spam). With our whitelist implementation, you get near 100% block rates with virtually no "false positive" issues.

What if I don't get an important e-mail from a potential new client who is not in my whitelist?
You will always receive all your messages. This is another benefit of the whitelist method. You will always receive all your messages. Your whitelist is used to determine if an incoming e-mail should be placed in your Inbox or your spam folder. So that important e-mail message from a real person who wants to do business with you but is not in your whitelist yet will be delivered in your spam folder. Most people check their spam folder a couple of times a day. So, at lunch time you see the message that was delivered in the morning. and you have plenty of time to respond.

Won't it be a lot of work to constantly check my spam folder?
Constantly checking your spam folder does sound like a lot of work. But in reality it is not. Almost everyone who has tried our whitelist method loves it. Once you have used it for a while, you will discover how refreshing it is to have an Inbox that only contains mail from people from whom you wish to receive mail. With ClearMail, you spend most of your day dealing with real e-mail in your Inbox. Very quickly you will find that you do not need to "constantly" check your spam folder. Most people expect a one-business day turnaround for e-mail messages. So checking your spam folder a couple of times a day is more than enough to meet this expectation. If someone wants a response in less than a day, then typically they are going to call you to place an order, get a question answered, or whatever.

Won't I have to constantly update my whitelist then?
In most cases, no. When you do have to update your whitelist, it's really easy to do and just takes a minute or two. Initially, you will fill in your whitelist from your Notes Address Book and possibly from your Sent folder (i.e if you sent someone something, its probably OK if they send you something). There are buttons available to do this for you with just a few clicks. Once the initial setup is done, you will find that most of the stuff in your spam folder really is spam. As you review your spam folder, you can quickly "check" or highlight real messages (you can usually tell from the sender's name or subject line) and then click the "Add to Inbox/Whitelist" button in your spam folder. This button takes all of the selected messages and moves them to your Inbox and automatically adds the senders to your whitelist.

Won't some of my end users find this confusing?
All organizations have end users with different expertise levels. However, our customers tell us that most users are able to understand the whitelist concept with very little training. Here is a quote from some of our documentation: "ClearMail takes a more proactive approach by using a whitelist (include list) method. With the whitelist, incoming e-mail from people or organizations on who are on your whitelist is delivered into your Inbox. Incoming messages from people or organizations who are not on your whitelist are delivered into your spam folder. This means ClearMail delivers all incoming messages to your mail file, and it uses the whitelist to determine if the message should go in the Inbox or in the spam folder." What could be simpler? With regards to the design of the user interface, we designed it to match the UI of the Notes mail template and use plain English labels and descriptors for buttons and field names. The end user help is built right into the main end user preferences form. To date, we have not received any "ease of use" enhancement requests.

What if we just want a server based tool, what if we don't want the end users to have to do anything?
ClearMail does have a whitelist that is set by an administrator at the domain or server level. This is normally used to facilitate mail delivery from subsidiary and partner companies. However, end users have to be able to control their own whitelist or the whitelist method won't work. Administrators have no way of knowing the e-mail addresses of family members, friends, et al. to add these e-mail addresses to the domain whitelist. This means you would have to use a blacklist or filter based method. Our research has shown these methods to be less effective than the whitelist method. When used at the organization level (i.e. only the administrator controls the settings), blacklists and filters only stop 50% to maybe 90% of incoming spam. Filters also suffer from serious false positive issues, in fact as a filter gets closer to blocking 100% of incoming spam, it starts generating more and more false positives. Both blacklists and filters "block" messages classified as spam, i.e. "spam" messages are not delivered to the intended recipient(s); the spam messages are either rejected completely, or in some cases placed in a domain-wide quarantine mail file. Someone, usually an administrator, then has to go through all of the spam received by the organization to search for false positives. So that message from the potential new client that was classified as spam will, in most cases, never be seen by the intended recipient. Why go through all that frustration and hassle when our whitelist method gives you near 100% block rates and no false positive issues?

How do we block offensive messages from being delivered to the spam folder to keep from getting sued?
While our whitelist method does an excellent job of identifying spam and placing it in the spam folder, it does not filter out "offensive" spam messages. This is being investigated as an enhancement to the product.

Why shouldn't I just use the blacklist feature that comes with Domino 6?
This is a great and much anticipated feature of Domino 6. However, our real world experience showed us that configuring Domino 6 to use three blacklists caught less than 60% of the spam coming into an organization. While this is an improvement, we thought there had to be a better way.

Does it capture all spam?
Yes, it does. As soon as you enable ClearMail, all messages identified as being spam are placed in your spam folder. Your Inbox will only contain mail from people listed in the domain whitelist and from people you have listed in your personal whitelist.

Will I lose e-mail?
In short, no. All messages from people who are not on the whitelist will normally be placed in your spam folder. This means all of your mail will either be placed in your Inbox or your spam folder. You have the option of turning on a "block" spam feature that will delete mail from individuals not on your domain and personal whitelists.

Why does it block certain attachments?
This is an added feature of the product. The number one way executable viruses are propagated around the world is through e-mail attachments. Your Domino Administrator can configure domain-wide rules to block attachments that are potential viruses before they get to your Inbox. Domain-wide rules can also be set up to block large attachments.

We already have anti-virus software, doesn't it do the same thing?
No. Anti-virus software uses pattern matching methods against a database of known viruses. This method is unable to detect new unknown viruses. The I-Love-You virus is probably the best example of this. It infected hundreds of thousands of computers world-wide. It is probably a safe bet that at least some of the machines that were infected had anti-virus software on them.

Does it mean I can cancel my anti-virus program?
No, attachments are not the only way executable viruses can be spread, just the most common way.

Can I get rid of my firewall?
No, firewalls protect you from many things unrelated to e-mail.

Why does it block large attachments?
Large attachments, when routed to multiple users and then "replied to" by multiple users, can very quickly consume a lot of server hard disk space, backup media and backup time windows. Blocking large attachments helps encourage the use of Document Libraries and Discussion Databases for sharing large files. Document Libraries and Discussion Databases offer other advantages over and above reduced disk space, so if you are not using them now, we recommend you set one up today!

What version of Domino and Notes does it run on?
ClearMail will run on Domino and Notes versions 5.0.7 and above and all versions of Domino and Notes 6. If you are running version 5.0.x and considering an upgrade to 6.x, you do not have to uninstall/reinstall when you upgrade to 6, it will upgrade right along with your Domino and Notes software.

Are there any plans to provide a version that works with Domino and Notes 4.x?
There are no plans at the current time to support versions of Domino and Notes below 5.0.7. We depend on certain API calls that are only available in the later releases.

How much overhead is there on my server?
Very little. It is tightly integrated with the Domino router and has had no noticeable affect on server usage for our current customers.

Do you make any changes to the mail template?
No. We know that many organizations have reservations about making changes to a mission critical template like the Lotus supplied and supported mail template. We specifically designed the product so we would not have to make changes to the mail template.

What are your support policies?
Support is free for 90 days at 1-8-Notes-Xprt (1-866-837-9778).

How much does it cost?
The list price for ClearMail is $20 (USD) per Lotus Notes mail file with generous discounts based on volume. There is no charge for the server, regardless of how many servers have ClearMail installed. Also unlike other anti-spam products, there are no monthly or yearly subscription charges.

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