Mailfoundry review

I’ve been using mailfoundry for my MX based spam filter (a hosted solution) for about 1 week now.  So far I have mixed feelings of the services which I will try to explain below.  I am using the service for two of my domains which are the primary two that I receive mail on.  I have about 10 addresses at each domain. 

The good:

   1. The service is easy to setup, just change your MX records
   2. Easy to configure, for the most part its failry easy to setup this service.
   3. No software required – this is a completely hosted solution, no software needed on your server.
   4. Offloads CPU/MEM/PERFORMANCE from your mail server = less load
   5. Mail bagging – if your server goes down, mailfoundry will queue mail for you
   6. Effectiveness – I have to say the effectiveness of this server is very good (see stats below)
   7. Good range of options – for a hosted service you have a good amount of control
   8. Filters – there are a wide range of custom filters and cutomization you can do in your control panel

The could be better:

   Some of the descriptions of the options (or even lack thereof) are a bit cryptic.  Sometimes you may not know exactly what the option is for or how it works.  I also found the web interface to be a bit slow at times, taking many seconds to load each page.  This is a hosted solution so I’m sure the performance of the box is going to vary. 

   If you use the hosted version of their spam filtering service, you can’t associate more than one domain to any single logon account.  Since I have two domains, I now have two logons to manage each one, which is not so much a problem as an inconvenience, especially if I had many domains.  With the appliance version you can have one account with multiple domains if you choose to go with the hardware appliance option. 

   When I was configuring my SMTP settings, it was a little tricky to import my whitelists.  I managed to do it, but it took some manual formatting to get the system to import my list correctly.  Also, under the SMTP routes configuration (how to deliver mail to my server), I had a little trouble getting this setup correctly.  Apparently when your account is setup, the mail server and port are uneditable.  For me, I use a custom SMTP port for incoming mail on my Exchange server.  When I signed up for service with MailFoundry, I was unable to specify this custom port, so when they configured my account it was setup on port 25.  I could not edit the port, but did find a workaround on my own after some experimentation.  To get around this, just add a bogus mail server and port (perferable before you point your MX records at their system), then delete the initial mail server they setup.  Now add the correct mail server and port and save your configuration.  A bit tricky, but it does work. 

   My biggest gripe about the service is the lack of a more complete logging solution.  I have a feeling there are some legitimate messages being blocked by one of any number of their spam checks.  I just have no way to prove it without allowing all spam to be forwarded or tagged.  I get about 12,000 spam messages per week, so this is not a very attractive option for me.  I would like to have the option to downlaod a log file of all blocked messages, whether they were deleted, tagged, quarantined or dropped by RBL.  Currently, there does not seem to be an option for this.  If the sender triggers any of the spam checks they are blocked.  No log, no quarantine, its just gone.  So I am sure there are some valid messages being deleted by the system, but I have no way to know for sure. 

   The catch rates are good, but a few messages come through that the services doesn’t get.  Fortunately, I have not removed the spam filter from my Exchange server, so wahtever mailfoundry doesn’t catch, GFI Mail Essentials does.  I haven’t seen a single spam in my inbox since implimenting this solution.  My mail server no longer has to process those thousands of spam messages anymore and I don’t have to sort through a spam mailbox to check for false positives. 

   One more note, I have found that even if you select the option to forward spam messages to another mailbox, this will not forward everything.  It seems all RBL, RDDNS, RFC and RP Sanity messages get dropped, you only receive spam messages that the filter thinks are spam but are not on any block lists.  So there really is no way with mailfoundry to tag everything and let you see the results of the filter, they just block all messages sent from hosts on block lists (not always accurate), and then forward on the few remaining messages. 

   As far as stats.  Check it out…

Since Thursday, my first domain has received 10,465 messages, 231 were allowed through, 10,234 were blocked.  My spam rate is 97.79%.  My second domain has been filtering since Friday or Saturday, and has received 9,931 messages.  280 were allowed through and 9,651 were blocked.  My spam rate for the second domain is 97.18%. 

   Overall, I like the mailfoundry hosted anti-spam service.  I think there are a few improvements that could be made, but I am pleased with the functionality, effectiveness and so far I haven’t noticed any important false positives.  I will continue to try this service for a few more weeks before deciding to make it permanent. 

About Joe

I am the author of this blog, IT engineer, husband, father, and somewhat of a nerd.

Posted on July 9, 2008, in Products I use, Professional/Tech, Software. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Hey – your comments and remarks are spot on and those are things that we’re working on! The hosted solution isn’t as easy to manage as an appliance installation (ie managing multiple accounts) and its customers like you who are helping us drive changes to the service.


    David Troup,
    CEO – MailFoundry

  2. Thank you for your comment! I honestly never thought anyone from MailFoundry would read this, but hope it was helpful. As I said in my post, I am very impressed with the service so far even aside from the few minor issues I pointed out.

    Thanks again!

  3. Ok here is an update. In the last two weeks lone, MailFoundry has blocked over 42,000 messages foy two of my domain names. I am still very happy with the MailFoundry service, and all of my two false alarm issues were cleared up by using the whitelist. I should mention the whitelist is quite customizable as well, you get granular control over what checks actually get disabled by whitelisting, so you can turn off anti-spam filtering but leave virus scanning on…

  4. Wow. I just called their sales department to get more information based on this review. However, the salesrep sucked – it was like pulling teeth trying to get more information about how the product worked and how things worked from an end-user perspective. Awesome job on losing a potential customer.

    • I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad experience with the sales rep. I never had to deal with a sales rep before, I did my entire setup online without any human interaction. I’ve also never had a problem I had to call in for support with, so I can’t reallly comment on that part either. The service itself is great for my needs, and has been very effective.

  5. Mailfoundry has the worst sales person I have ever worked with. They don’t give a crap and are NEVER available to offer up solutions except when it comes time for billing and collecting.

    All three of the appliances that I had were unreliable. The first appliance I had, a hard drive went out within 6 months. I have had issues with all three when they are under any load at all. It seemed like the Mailfoundry unit had to be reset time and time again to get it functioning again. I will be finding a new solution to mail filtering.

    • I have never tried the appliances, so I can’t comment on that. My review is for their hosted service. Sorry to hear you had such bad experiences.

  6. re hosted plan: how many users will i have to pay for??????
    i have four domains i use for email. each one of the four use two aliases.
    so that’s 8 email addresses and four domains, and four user email accounts. all of them are for my use. i set it up this way so when i view the email in ms outlook the mail will be seperated.

    • For the hosted option with MailFoundry you will pay separately for each domain. It doesn’t matter that its really only 4 user accounts, to MailFoundry it will be 4 domains, with 4 recipients (even if they are only forwarders). So you will get charged for 4 recipients on each domain.

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