Spamassassin is slow - any tips or good commercial alternative?

Richard Lynch rich at
Sat Aug 2 15:15:19 IST 2008

Julian Field wrote:
> Richard Lynch wrote:
>> Julian Field wrote:
>>> Rob Poe wrote:
>>>>>>> The concern is that I am eventually looking to have over 10,000
>>>>>>> users, so will be receiving, and then sending, multiple emails per
>>>>>>> second.
>>>>>>> Even now, with only 1,500 users, people have started reporting "Too
>>>>>> many concurrent SMTP connections; Please try again later"
>>>>> Thank you James - this will be very helpful I suspect.
>>>>> We also are using Exim as the MTA, so any specific config advice 
>>>>> for Exim would also be greatly appreciated :)
>>>>> BTW we are using one server (Pentium 4, 2.4GHz, 1GB RAM), 
>>>>> currently have 1500 active paid users,
>>>>>  and am expecting up to 10,000-15,000 active paid users in the 
>>>>> future (say, 1 or 2 years from now).
>>>> I'd expect that only ONE P4 2.4 1g isn't enough ... If it were my 
>>>> configuration and I had that many users, I'd probably go more into 
>>>> the Core2/Xeon/some other kind of multi-core or multi processor 
>>>> setup, and go with at least 4 gigs of ram, making sure you also 
>>>> focus on using FAST drives (10k SAS raid0+1)
>>> Get an evaluation licence for BarricadeMX from Fort Systems 
>>> ( This is a *very* good anti-spam system that costs 
>>> less than any of the other decent commercial alternatives. Even an 
>>> old server should be able to handle near 1 million SMTP connections 
>>> per day without any difficulty. Put MailScanner and SpamAssassin 
>>> behind it to clean up what it misses and you have a *superb* system 
>>> for very little money.
>>> They do 30 day eval licences for free so you can try it out. It's 
>>> very quick to deploy and test, and they will happily help you with 
>>> that, as will I.
>>> Give it a go, you won't be disappointed.
>>> Jules
>> I can give a strong "seconded" to this suggestion.   Take a look in 
>> the archives at my post on 7/23/2007 for a testament of our 
>> experiences.  That was version 1.0, they are up to version 2.1 now.  
>> It's a fine product with excellent support.
>> My 2c,
> And one more comment from my users. After I deployed BarricadeMX in 
> addition to my MailScanner setup, my users just reported that "all of 
> a sudden, what little spam there was just stopped, completely". I now 
> reject about 96% of incoming mail, and I have some very idle MXs as 
> BarricadeMX handles about 94% of the incoming mail without ever 
> letting it in the front door.
> If you want more references from some of my users, just ask and I'll 
> pick random people for comments. They like it!
> Jules
I can't resist one "final" comment.  Before I deployed BMX I was running 
on 5 overloaded MS/SA boxes.   The mail queues were regularly behind by 
several 1,000 messages and I was looking at buying yet another box to 
spread the load out.   We opted to go with BMX instead.  The system load 
and backlog immediately went away.  I'm now considering dropping back to 
3 production boxes, a 4th for a test system, and actually dropping 
maintenance on the 5th.  We're now rejecting +95% of all inbound mail as 
spam.  92-93% of that is stopped by BMX, the remainder is flagged by 
SA.  I could easily double the amount of inbound messages and still be 
OK.  BMX drops in on a MS-SA box extremely easily.   Another great thing 
about using BMX as a front end is that bounces/notification occurs on 
the sending side since the message is never accepted in the first 
place.  Quietly deleting detected spam with a SA only solution puts the 
burden on you to diagnose why a message was rejected.   I also found 
that I could turn bayes in SA off completely.   It was no longer 
detecting enough to justify using it.  SA with bayes turned on is a huge 
load on the system.  And best of all, I got my life back.  The amount of 
effort I spent dealing with overloaded boxes, FPs, etc was astounding.   
I could hardly take time off etc because of having to deal with issues.  
I'm actually posting this from a weeks vacation.  There hasn't been a 
single issue all week long.  Everything just works!

The reason I keep going on and on about this is because it's such a 
great, low cost solution for filtering.  I'm not associated with the 
company in any way other than as a customer.  I think it's a near 
perfect solution for those with a significant volume of e-mail and 
overloaded servers.

A little more than 2c,
Richard Lynch


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