Thoughts on Barracudas?

Stephen Swaney steve.swaney at
Mon Aug 21 16:02:34 IST 2006

> -----Original Message-----
> From: mailscanner-bounces at [mailto:mailscanner-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of Matt Laney
> Sent: Monday, August 21, 2006 9:46 AM
> To: MailScanner discussion
> Subject: Re: Thoughts on Barracudas?
> Hey, Julian,
> > I have had some comments from a few people leaving the mailing list as
> > they are ditching their MailScanner setups and switching to Barracuda
> > applicances instead. They claim that things worked fine when they first
> > installed MailScanner, but gradually more and more spam is leaking
> > through, to the point where they have decided to abandon it.
> ...
> I run between three and five MailScanner boxes at my site (5000 email
> users, something like 150,000 emails per day) depending on which of
> my found hardware is working, and when the Barracuda started gaining
> popularity about a year ago I tried it out as a means of reducing my mail
> management overhead.  Basically, since I run neither FreeBSD nor RedHat,
> I was trying to get around the headaches associated with MailScanner
> upgrades.
> The 30-day or so demo went poorly enough that I sent the thing back and
> haven't regretted it a bit.  Instead, I'm building a couple really big
> MailScanner boxes that'll do nicely with FreeBSD.
> > What is your opinion on the Barracuda appliance?
> I think the Barracuda spam filter gizmo is fine for small sites with
> limited numbers of users, Exchange on the back end, and not much in the
> way of complicated need.  In fact, I recommend it to several of my
> consulting clients who have 30-person offices.

If you have 30 or less users and an exchange backend it's typically much
less expensive to use a service to scan your email. Fortunately there are
many out there that use MailScanner :) 

Perhaps Julian could add a page that lists these MailScanner friendly sites
and their location by country :)

> > How easy is it to use?
> The interface is pretty, but not very intuitive.  Training it is
> difficult:
> you pretty much have to let it collect a bunch of mail, then click on each
> of those items of mail with a web browser and tell it Spam or Not Spam.
> At
> least at the time I played with it there was no equivalent to feeding it a
> couple corpi via sa-learn.
> There's a built-in quarantine feature that I couldn't use because of my
> mail store system (non-LDAP-friendly).
> It makes pretty pictures.
> Tweaking settings per user was both easy and hard -- I couldn't make it do
> what I wanted.  Like so many commercial products, you're sort of stuck
> with
> the way of thinking about mail and spam that they've built in.
> I think they tried too hard to get personalized spam handling per
> recipient,
> which is something my site doesn't use.  (We have almost nothing
> configured
> per-user except the level of spamminess at which mail is deleted before
> they
> ever see it, and even that's only done for about 10 people.)
> > Does it actually work?
> Kinda.  We had more spam getting through it than I had getting through
> an old MailScanner with an old SpamAssassin on it.  It's nowhere near
> as flexible as MailScanner, but for straight up picking spam out of the
> email stream, it did OK.
> > Can it survive the loads they say it can?
> Not in my tests.  I was getting bigger delays in processing across a new
> Barracuda than I was getting across MailScanner before the last two big
> speed improvements... running on a Pentium 3 900MHz with 256 megs of RAM.
> > And, of course, how does it compare with MailScanner?
> I stayed with MailScanner.  It does not win my vote, particularly when
> the load is large.  :-)

Stephen Swaney
Fort Systems Ltd.
stephen.swaney at

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