Best Practices for Using Hosted Anti-Spam

thIf you are considering a hosted or cloud-based antispam solution, there are a few things you should consider to make sure you get the most for your money, have the best results you can get, and have the minimum number of issues. Hosted antispam solutions are a great way to save bandwidth while getting very effective results from your content filtering solution, but there are also some key points to consider, and some missteps you can make when setting them up. Here are some best practices for using hosted antispam with your messaging system.

There can be only one

One common misstep I see customers take is by setting up more than one. I guess the reasoning is “more is better” but in this case, it’s not. Whatever anti-spam solution you choose, it should be the only one. That’s not to say you cannot use additional anti-spam measures within your on-premises environment, but you will want to disable anything that looks at source IP addresses since every message filtered by your first hosted antispam service will show as coming from that service. That will make RBL and SPF lookups all fail, since the sending system (the first hosted system) won’t match the domain or SPF records.

Ensure redundancy

Hosted antispam is a great way to go, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Make sure your hosted provider has multiple data centers and Internet connections so that a single point of failure doesn’t stop mail flow for your organization.

Don’t create a bypass for spammers

Many companies like to keep their own SMTP gateway listed in DNS and able to receive email in case their hosted antispam solution goes off line. They may set up their SMTP gateway on-premises with a higher MX weight, thinking it will only get mail when the service provider goes down. Unfortunately, spammers are wise to this trick, and will send their junk to those systems specifically to get around the lower weight, more effective screening system. Your fallback method becomes a way to let spammers bypass your hosted service completely.

Have user self-service

Make sure your hosted antispam service offers a user self-service for releasing messages from quarantine or searching for blocked messages, and then make sure your users learn how to check things for themselves. You want your messaging team to spend time on messaging, not spam patrol, so empower your users to help themselves.

When selecting a hosted antispam solution, following the best practices laid out above will help to ensure you get the most effective protection for your investment, and that your users are satisfied with the results.

Written by Casper Manes

I currently work as a Senior Messaging Consultant for one of the premier consulting firms in the world, I cut my teeth on Exchange 5.0, and have worked with every version of Microsoft’s awesome email package since then, as well as MHS, Sendmail, and MailEnable systems. I've written dozens of articles on behalf of my past employers, their partners, and others, and I finally decided to embrace blogging and social media, so please follow me on Twitter @caspermanes if you enjoy my posts.


  1. Cass · May 8, 2013

    Great tips! It was especially useful to learn that you can’t get redundancy just by using two services. I presume the reason why most of us would use two services is just to dual proof against failure and it really helps to know why you can’t actually do it. This makes it even more important to choose wisely whom to outsource to because if they fail, you won’t have an alternative provider as a backup.

  2. Queennie · May 16, 2013

    I discovered something new today. It’s only now that I learned that you do not exactly need more than one anti-spam solution to protect your entire system. I now realize that this misconception is probably what contributed to the problems I’ve been having regarding the effectiveness of my hosted anti-spam service. Like many others, I was thinking all along that I would be more protected and safer if I had two services simultaneously protecting my system. Lesson of the day: the cliché that “less is more” is really true in a lot of cases -especially in the fight against spam!

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