Disposable Email Addresses, by Spamex
Posted: 1-Sep-2005

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Spamex Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Steve Lazarus Class: SERVICE
     
$9.95/$19.95/$29.95 per year    

Overview
Spam is the curse of the internet. Every time we provide an email address to a website, we are trusting that the site won't send us unwanted mail, will honor our our request to be removed from their email list, and will not unscrupulously provide our email address to others. Changing one's email address is a very inconvenient way to stop spam. Spamex is one of a number of services that addresses this problem by providing disposable email addresses. A disposable email address is one that is instantly created, forwards mail to your real email address, and may be dispose of at any time.

This review was conducted using Apple's Safari web browser.

Price
$9.95/$19.95/$29.95 per year.
1 month free trial available.

How it Works
Spamex provides the ability to create and manage disposable email addresses. Spamex provides a link that can be set as a bookmark or conveniently place on the bookmark bar. In Safari this can be done by simply tracking the link from the Spamex getting started page to the bookmarks bar. Emails received through Spamex provide links to to Spamex management and tracking capabilities.

Creating a disposable email address.

Clicking on this link brings up a login screen (if you are not already logged in) and then to the following administrative page.


Spamex Administrative Page

The "Create Address" button brings up the following screen:


Spamex Email Address Creation

Here you may select the email address that the email forward to, chose either the domain "spamex.com" or "xemaps.com" and either have spamex generate an email address or you my select custom to propose an address to use. Random address are truly random, one example one that I have is a7ep-c1rw@spamex.com. When a disposable address is created, you may optionally add information such as the site URL and site username and password for later reference and set various administrative options. You may also add a nickname that appears in email so that the address appears in the standard form Steve Lazarus <SteveLaz@spamex.com>. The Profile link takes you to account management functions, including the creation of addresses to forward to. When a new forward to address is created, a validation email is sent to that address that includes a link to validate the address.

An address created "For Someone Else" is automatically deleted after one use. A great use of this feature, as hinted on the entry screen, is when you wish to send a creating card or use an "Email to a friend" option on a web site and wish to assure that the email address is not harvested for future use.

Using a disposable address.

Mail sent to the disposable email address is forwarded to your real email address. The message is prefaced with a link back to Spamex to get information on or administer the disposable address being used and a note that any reply you make from your real address will be routed through Spamex. This provides normal use of your email client while keeping your real email address totally hidden.


Sample Email Sent Through Spamex

At any time you may go to the Spamex site and disable the address or delete it entirely. You may also review a history of email sent to the address and a "contact list" of who has used the address. These features allow recognition of email abuse. If you use an address for a single site and start getting emails from other places, you know that the site is passing on your address. I have used a disposable address when as the hyperlink for my name at the top of this article. Readers of this article can freely communicate to me while I have the ability to disable or restrict this address if it is abused.

Such abuse is shown in the following snippet from the contacts of an address I disabled when spam started coming through clearly shows spammer behavior.


Spammer Behavior

Pricing

The $9.95 yearly price option provides 500 active disposable email addresses and a maximum message size of 500K. The $19.95 option provides 1000 addresses and 2M maximum size. The $29.95 option increases these to 2000 addresses and 5M. The Spamex page has a link to spamcom.org. There you can sign up to get 3 disposable addresses and a maximum message size of 25K for free.

Other Features

  • You may specify, per address, whether email replies go through the Spamex service, hiding your real email address, or go directly to the sender, exposing your real address.
  • Addresses may be set to expire after a given amount of time or a given number of uses.
  • Rather than just disabling a disposable address, it may be configured as open to all except addresses placed on a black list or closed to all except for addresses placed on a white list.
  • Comments may be manually inserted into the online log. This provides the ability to make notes of usage available. For example, I sometimes note when an address was first used for a specific web site.
  • Mail may be sent from a disposable address from the Spamex site. The sample email above is an example. This was received in my real mailbox but my real email address remains hidden from readers of this review.

Summary
Most of us are deluged by spam. A disposable email address can be created for temporary or prolonged use with the comfort that it may be disabled or destroyed if it is misused. Spamex provides an excellent service for creating and managing disposable email addresses. This service is highly recommended for anyone wishing greater ability to protect their email address. The control and flexibility is greater than use of temporary address on Yahoo or Google Mail. The extra steps required to make use of a disposable address are well worth the protection that is provided.

Pros

  • Disposable addresses provide control over use of your email address.
  • Incoming and outgoing mail is proxied through the Spamex service.
  • Logging features provide visibility into how the email address is being used.


Cons

  • The Spamex provided button does not automatically fill in the originating web site when creating a new disposable email address.
  • The URLs displayed on the address list pages are not clickable links.
  • Discipline is required to take the extra steps required to use the service.


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice