[Dshield] Good e-mail client?

Buzz info at 4201.com
Wed Mar 10 21:34:49 GMT 2004

Tuesday, March 9, 2004, 9:56:05 AM, Peter Stendahl-Juvonen wrote:


> Graham et al.

> Would you care to share the results of your research on The Bat?

> Inspired by the comments that I have seen (on other forums) I am
> considering The Bat myself. (Would most likely have bought the license
> if I had noticed the vendor's sales campaign last Dec/Jan.)

> It would truly appear to be the state-of-the-art email client (with a
> weird name), cream of the cream.

> - Pete


I'm one of the impressed.  I started using the Bat about 3 months ago and have been very happy with it.

I use 7 different domains and 3 different incoming mail servers.  Each server filters mail differently, from very strict to none.  I create one pop account per domain and assign it to a server based on the filters needed.  Then I actually use the alias accounts publically, so that I can change the spam/attachment filtering as needed without changing the actual email address.  My client needs to filter attachments on some accounts and not on others.    

Between email and mailing lists, I frequently get 1000 new messages in a day.  Very little spam gets past spam assassin.  But I need a very good filter system.

The Bat was a little confusing to set up.  You can tell the programmer couldn't claim english as a native language.  I had to download the manual and read it to understand what I was doing.  But the manual did solve the problem and once I got it setup, it was well worth the effort.

What they call the "Sorting Office" - email filters are much simpler than any others I've seen.  They work per-account, and I use them not only to sort by sender, but also for keywords in the subject as well as the message.  I have to create a filter for each subject of interest, and then the Bat sorts through it all and just gives me the subjects I wanted, deleting or archiving the rest, based on my filters.  And the filters work, reliably.  

For attachments -- you create three lists by extension-allow, disallow, and prompt.  Unfortunately this isn't a per-account setting, it is only one global setting.  But it works, correctly.  It also warns you about double-extension attachments if you wish.

The Bat displays your email in panes, like Firebird does web pages.   I set it to display only plain text and that is what I get.  If the email is html then I get it reduced to a plain text file.  The text file displays in the first (default) pane, and there will be an additional pane for each approved attachment. Fact is, you can actually block .html just like any other extension if you wish.   In preferences you select how you want to view the messages, as text or html - and it works, right.

The Bat's address book is pretty much like a microsoft address book but it is part of the bat, not part of the os.  

The Bat has message templates - very easy to use, and you create different templates per account.   As many as you want.  Very much like Outlooks templates but easier (at least to me) You can even create specific templates for contacts in the address book.  VERY easy to use, VERY powerful-- ther are dozens and dozens of available variables you can insert-- and they work, CORRECTLY.  You can even designate where you want the cursor to appear in the blank page.

Multi-users & groups appear to be supported but at this time I'm just using it myself so no experience there, yet.

PGP is supported as is S/MIME.  There is a built in PGP key generator.
A built in calender with tasks, not as pretty as Outlook but same idea.  Built in backup program, spell checker, pgp encryption, and while it appears to support ssl connections to the server, I haven't any experience with that.  There is a built in smtp server that I have no need for and no experience with.  There's a Bayes spam filter plugin, and several antivirus plusins available.  

Having a very paranoid nature, and as I was dealing with a program that appears to be Russian, I was concerned about about that smtp server thing as I originally tried it out.  I didn't install the server, nor did I completly trust that it wasn't done without my knowledge.  I paid extra special attention to the firewall logs for quite some time and haven't seen anything suspicious at all.  

Last week a copy of netsky slipped past the server filter.  The Bat has been told to zap the zip files and this was the first test ... but netsky got zapped by Mcafee before it ever got to the Bat, all I saw was a message, pane # 1 was the text of the original message, pane # 2 was a message telling me an infected attachment was zapped.  I found it dead, in the quarantine file.     

I've had only two problems with The Bat ... the trial version has a nag screen.  After 10 days or so a second nag screen appears.  When I bought & registered it, the first nag screen died, but the second one wouldn't die.  I had to uninstall & reinstall to kill the second screen.  Good news is there wasn't a activation process -- the key they sent me in the original email, works on a reinstall.  The reinstall proved that their backup process works flawlessly except for the fact that it failed to restore my GLOBAL settings - it only restored the account settings.  But ALL accounts were restored correctly.  (of course with 7 different accounts that was the hard part anyway)  The ability is there, to set custom folders on a per-account basis for those who do not want to store their mail in the default location.

The other problem still going on.  If the Bat checks email, and for some reason cannot connect to the server, it hangs up.  ABORT doesn't quite work right.  As my personal machine is a laptop using a wireless connection - this happens more than I would like.  There seems to be no solution except to kill the process, and start over.  But this is the only problem I'm having.  I have to go back a double check what I set for server time-outs as I may have caused this problem - I don't think so, but haven't ruled out server time out settings yet.

I noticed that The Bat will allow me to turn off the user agent string  -  or customize it.  On their web site, I found a message that said in an earlier version of the Bat, there was apparently an effort that was widespread enough to cause bug reports -- system adms were blocking the user agent considering it a spam program.  Ritlabs says they enabled the user to turn off the user agent string, to counteract that problem.  Marc Chabot posted a message to me that gives a different link with more info on this subject http://www.silverstones.com/thebat/spammer.html
(thank you Marc)

All in all -- the Bat is the best email program I've used.  Of course, it is not free.  I not only would buy it again, but I am recommending to one of my clients that they use it as a network client because the security is much better than any free client I've used.  Over the next month or so we will be installing it their 14 machines,  and I will get some experience with users and group settings -- I'll post more then if anyone's interested.


aka Buzz



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