6. Troubleshooting

While using SpamSpector is generally fairly painless, it is inevitable that problems may arise. This section aims to answer a few of the most common ones. If they don't help, have a look at the SpamSpector FAQ or try asking for help in the online SpamSpector forums.P


My mail program says "server not found"?

Check that you have changed the incoming POP3 server setting in your mail program to "localhost" and that the port is 110 (unless SpamSpector told you it should be otherwise, in which case make sure it's the value SpamSpector gave you.)


SpamSpector says it can't find my mailserver!

Check that you've added your mailserver to your username correctly. Make sure you've got the name of the mailserver right - and if you weren't told it uses a non-standard port, the name shouldn't contain a colon followed by a port number.

Netscape and some other elderly mail programs don't allow @ characters in the username - but SpamSpector will recognise a % instead.


I've installed SpamSpector and now I can't send email!

When you install SpamSpector, you have to change the username that's sent to your incoming mail (or POP3) server. However, some mail-clients will use the same username for the outgoing mail (or SMTP) server. Obviously, your outgoing server needs to see your original username, while your incoming server needs your modified-for-SpamSpector one.

Have a look in your mail program's configuration to see if you can set the username for your outgoing mailserver separately. The setting may be in a different tab, or in an "Advanced" dialog. If you can't find it, ask on the discussion forum for help.


SpamSpector gives me regular "unable to resolve server name" errors when I'm not even online!

Most probably, your mail client is still trying to check your mail even when you're offline. Normally this fails (because you're offline), and it keeps quiet about this and doesn't tell you. However, now you're using SpamSpector your mail client manages to connect to SpamSpector but then can't connect to your server (because you're offline).

The solution is to call up the Servers pane of the "Options" dialog and choose to suppress the "unable to resolve server name" error message.


My firewall says SpamSpector is trying to connect to the Internet!

Normally, your mail program will fetch your email. However, when you're using SpamSpector, SpamSpector fetches your email and passes it on to your mail program; in order to do this, SpamSpector needs to be able to connect to the Internet.

SpamSpector will also connect to the Internet to check for new versions of itself, and to update the list of DNSBL services. Both of these are done with no personal data being transmitted. However, it you don't like the idea of SpamSpector "phoning home", you can disable these features from the Updates tab of the Options dialog.


SpamSpector gives me "No such file or directory" errors.

This could be due to Tiny Personal Firewall blocking write access to configuration data. Try disabling your firewall as a test, and if the error vanishes try tweaking your firewall configuration to give SpamSpector full file access.


Some non-spam mail has been filtered into my spamtrap folder.

Sadly, in any filtering system there will be some false positives. If it's just one or two, try adding the senders of those mails to your whitelist. Alternatively, have a look at the X-SpamSpector: header to see what I.P. address is causing the message to be tagged as spam, and add that address to the Advanced Whitelist.


Lots of non-spam mail has been filtered into my spamtrap folder.

If all the non-spam mail in your spamtrap is from the same ISP, consider adding the ISP to your whitelist or the ISP's netblocks to your Advanced Whitelist.

Otherwise, have a look at the X-SpamSpector header and see which list is doing the blocking. If most of the wrongly-spamtrapped mails were caught by the same list, it could be that that list is too aggressive for your needs. Try disabling it from the Options dialog.


All my non-spam mail has been filtered into my spamtrap folder!

If everything you haven't whitelisted is ending up in your spamtrap folder, there could be a number of causes...

  • Your own ISP is on a DNSBL list. Have a look at the X-SpamSpector header to see which list is causing the inappropriate tagging. Call up the Options dialog, find the list with that code, go to it's website and there should be some way of checking if a given I.P. address is on the list. Enter the I.P. address from the X-SpamSpector header and see what it says. If it's on the list, there are a number of possible solutions. You could simply uncheck that list in the Options dialog. Alternatively, you could add the I.P. address given, or even better all of your I.S.P.'s netblocks, to the Advanced Whitelist.

    However, although this will stop SpamSpector tagging all your mail as spam, the listing will prevent millions of email users all over the world from receiving your email. You should contact your ISP. about the listing, and if it doesn't get cleared up quickly you might want to consider getting a new ISP.

  • A DNSBL list might be misconfigured. Occaisionally, usually after a DNSBL list dies, it might start claiming that everything is on the list. Sometimes this is done to stop people using the now-dead list, other times it is just an accident. In this case, there will probably be a message on the offending list's website - or the website itself might be dead. The solution is simple - just uncheck the list in question in the Options dialog.

  • There might be a mistake in your blacklist. If the X-SpamSpector header identifies that the tagging is caused by your personal blacklist (BLIST FROM) or your advanced blacklist (BLIST <IP address>), you should find and correct the problem entry in your offending blacklist. Take special care with wildcards in the normal blacklist, and when describing netblocks in the advanced blacklist.

  • Your mail filter might be wrongly configured. If there's anything with the X-SpamSpector: PASS header in your spamtrap folder, you've configured the filter in your mail program wrongly. Go back and correct it!


SpamSpector is hardly catching any spam.

Firstly, the obvious possibilities: check that your filter in your mail program is correct, and that you do actually have some DNSBL lists checked in the Options dialog.

Otherwise, it could well be that your ISP is already filtering your mail based upon the DNSBL lists you have chosen. So lots of spam mail is refused by your ISP before it even gets to SpamSpector. You could try selecting some alternative DNSBL lists.

Future versions of SpamSpector will include different types of filters that will catch more spam.


Lots of spam is getting passed with the header PASS TIME-OUT

Seeing PASS TIME-OUT in the X-SpamSpector header line means that one or more DNSBL queries timed out while this message was being processed. This means that SpamSpector got tired of waiting for a DNSBL service to respond, and decided to pass your message anyway.

If you see this message a lot, you could try increasing the time-out period from the Advanced pane of the options dialog. This will slow down mail fetching, however, as SpamSpector will wait longer before timing out.

A future version of SpamSpector will incorporate more efficient querying of DNSBL services, which should mean less time-outs.


SpamSpector makes fetching my mail very slow.

Initially, SpamSpector has to check every single mailserver that every single email message passed through against the DNSBL services, in order to see just what is spam and what isn't. However, after a week or so of regular use, the Automatic Whitelist will start to contain the email addresses and mailservers from which you receive most of your mail, and these won't have to be checked anymore. Thus, as you use it. the speed of SpamSpector should improve.


I installed SpamSpector but it downloaded all my old messages!

If you are using a "Leave Messages On Server" (or similar) option in your mail program, then the first time you use SpamSpector your mail program may well forget which messages you have already seen and download them all again. This cannot be avoided, but will only happen the once.


SpamSpector froze while I was trying to download my mail!

Are you using ZoneAlarm? There seems to be an issue when you're using ZoneAlarm and SpamSpector on a Windows 2000 machine. The problem only occurs for certain email messages, and is probably related to ZoneAlarm's anti-virus features. You can get around this problem by disabling either ZoneAlarm or SpamSpector to retrieve the offending message, then re-enable them. For a full-time solution, you should switch to an alternative firewall such as Outpost or Tiny Personal Firewall.

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