Review: Cloudmark DesktopOne

In 2009, The Tech Herald reviewed Cloudmark’s anti-Spam platform, Cloudmark Desktop. We were impressed with the product, so we've taken the time to review Cloudmark's newest desktop offering, the aptly named DesktopOne.

Cloudmark offers DesktopOne as both a free and paid application. For our review, we tested the Pro DesktopOne version. The cost is $19.95 USD per year. With that fee comes the ability to protect multiple email accounts, on-demand folder scanning, automatic Spam removal, email-based support, and the ability to trust email from your local address book.

Note: When it comes to protection, the free version will work just as well as the paid version. If you wanted to spend the extra money, it’s worth the expense, but it isn’t a requirement.

We started using Cloudmark DesktopOne on October 13 officially. We set it to protect email from three active accounts. One account is the security address at The Tech Herald, another was a personal ISP-assigned email account, and the third belongs to a Webmail account that we use as a secondary contact.

Installation is simple. You can easily configure your email accounts and install the program in less than five minutes. From there, you will have access to DesktopOne in your email client, as well as a toolbar icon.

When push comes to shove, DesktopOne will block a majority of junk mail instantly with no interaction. The power of DesktopOne comes from the community of users. For every email you block by hand, a signature is created. This signature is what prevents the same message from hitting other DesktopOne users.

So the more a message is flagged by users, the more likely it is to be blocked automatically. There are checks to prevent gaming of the system, but the key to making things work is to correct mistakes and properly flag messages as soon as you are able.

During the test we noticed a few issues. For example, EFTPS-related Phishing scams consistently made it past the filters. One-in-five EFTPS related emails needed to be flagged by hand as Spam in the email client (Outlook 2003). [More information on the EFTPS Phishing scam is here.]

In addition, there were issues with Russian language Spam, Pfizer related pharmacy-Spam, as well as groups of emails with the same topic, where one email would be flagged, but two identical messages will be missed.

DesktopOne will have issues dealing with massive email downloads. If you start downloading email in bulk, messages that would normally be blocked are missed. You’ll get the best results by using DesktopOne on a regular basis.

Resource-wise, DesktopOne will use about 200MB of RAM while idle, and spike depending on the volume of mail being processed. Nothing major, but for lower end systems, this could pose a problem.

From October 13 to November 1, DesktopOne checked 5,605 email messages. Again, these were from active accounts that were checked daily. Of the 5,605 emails checked, 2,421 messages were blocked, leaving 3,184 marked as legit.

When it comes to score, 7.63 percent of the emails marked as legitimate were incorrectly flagged. Meaning that 231 messages were marked as legitimate, but in reality they were Spam. Likewise, 12 messages were marked as Spam, but they were legitimate.

Thus, Cloudmark DesktopOne was able to offer an accuracy of 92.37 percent. This score comes from not using the total messages checked, but the total messages marked as legitimate, less the mistakes, based on Cloudmark's reporting of Checked and Blocked email. (Page 2 contains our error log of messages during the testing period.)

With an out-of-the-box detection rate of 92.37 percent, DesktopOne delivers on the promised protection. This percentage will also grow overtime, as the program harnesses the community and your own usage. As mentioned, we were impressed with the previous Cloudmark offering, and we’re equally impressed here. 

If you are looking for a free anti-Spam solution, DesktopOne is a solid choice. Even with a yearly fee of $19.95 USD, the program is worth a look. Just remember to play your part by flagging messages in a timely fashion.

DesktopOne works with Outlook, Thunderbird, Windows Mail, and Outlook Express, on XP, Vista, or Windows 7.

Our advice? Start with the free version and try it for 30 days. That should be enough time for you to gauge its effectiveness for your personal needs. More information is available here.

Total Score: 92.37 out of 100

Missed Legitimate Mail (Good mail incorrectly marked)
Date - Total messages missed

10/13 - 3
10/16 - 1
10/20 - 2
10/21 - 1
10/22 - 1
10/25 - 2
10/26 - 1
11/01 -1

Missed Spam (Bad mail that bypassed protection)
Date - Total messages missed

10/13 - 15
10/14 - 31
10/15 - 14
10/16 - 6
10/17 - 6
10/18 - 14
10/19 - 3
10/20 - 14
10/21 - 29
10/22 - 18
10/23 - 16
10/24 - 18
10/25 - 15
10/26 - 3
10/27 - 3
10/28 - 6
10/29 - 8
10/30 - 3
10/31 - 5
11/01 - 4

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