I’m using Windows 7 and have Hotmail as my main email provider. I’m
constantly getting spam as most of us do. However, I’ve attempted to block the
spammers by blocking the IP address, the domain, the email and still no luck.
Is there a way to block emails coming from a certain country? Or have Hotmail
reject all email from a certain time to a certain time? Say at night when I’m
getting the most junk email?
In this excerpt from
Answercast #73, I look at the possibility of lowering spam by blocking
emails from a certain country or by time of day.
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The short answer to your question is no.
Particularly with Hotmail, there is actually no way to configure those kinds
of options in any way that would be helpful. And in fact, my sense is that
blocking in general simply does not work.
Blocking specific email addresses makes you feel better, but in fact,
spammers are sending from a variety of email addresses and you can’t block them
all. Heck, they could be faking the email address, so that it looks like it’s
coming from you!
Spammers constantly change & hide
Along those lines, we end up with the same problem for any technique you
might want to use to block email based on the domain or the email address or
even the IP address.
All of these things are routinely spoofed by the spammers or misused by
spammers, so it looks like the spam is coming from other places than it
For all you know, even though it may be coming from China, the spam could
look like it’s coming from the machine in your neighbor’s house next door.
That’s really frustrating! But that means that these kind of blanket attempts
to block spam based on those simple characteristics of IP address or domain or
email address are all pretty much doomed to failure. Spammers have known for a
long time how to work around that kind of stuff.
As a result, there’s simply no consistency in the spam that would make that
kind of blocking useful.
Block spam for time of day
Now, the “time of day” thing. You know, to be honest, I wouldn’t use it if I
had it. But I’m not aware of any spam-fighting solution that uses the time of
day as a criteria for blocking spam.
So I don’t think that’s on the table at all.
“This is spam” button
The best thing you can do for spam, particularly with an account like a
Hotmail account, is to make use of the junk button; make use of the “This is spam”
I think it’s called Junk in Hotmail.
What that does is it allows Hotmail to learn from you what spam
looks like. Hotmail then uses significantly more complex detection algorithms
to determine exactly what is and is not spam. And like I said, it learns based
on the kinds of things that you say are spam.
It will look at the content of the email. It will look at the language of
the email. It will certainly look at the IP addresses of the email.
But, it won’t look at them all in isolation: it will look at them in
combination and compare those combinations of characteristics to things that
people have already marked as spam The more similar it is to what people have
said is spam, the more likely it is that Hotmail will mark it as spam for you,
and throw it into your junk mail folder.
Retrieving false positives
Now, the one caveat is that it’s not enough to just mark spam as spam when
it shows up in your inbox. It’s important to also periodically go take a look
at the junk mail folder, the spam folder, and make sure that something that
isn’t spam wasn’t falsely placed there.
When it is (and it will happen), make sure to open that email and
mark it as “not junk” or “not spam.”
That also tells Hotmail that this type of email, with all the
characteristics that Hotmail might be able to analyze that email for,
represents something that to you is not spam – and should not be marked as
spam in the future. In other words, we’re also teaching Hotmail what is
By doing that fairly consistently, you’re improving Hotmail’s spam detection
algorithm. Over time, the amount of spam that actually makes it into your inbox
That’s really the state of the art in spam fighting these days. Hotmail is
good, Gmail happens to be a little bit better, but both of them rely on the
same fundamental technology that analyzes a number of characteristics of spam
(everything from it’s origin to its content) and then based on the similarity
of that to other spam that it’s detected in the past, it will decide whether or
not something is or is not spam and make it go away for you.
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)
Next from Answercast 73 – Why does
Skydrive require I login with my Hotmail account?