Many SMBs are looking at hosted anti-spam service providers to help them solve spam problems quickly and efficiently, while keeping costs down. If you are looking for an anti-spam service provider, here’s the short list of the features and services you want to make sure they offer.

1. Inbound and outbound filtering

Everybody wants to filter inbound messages, and every anti-spam service provider will do that. But too many companies wind up on blacklists because a user does something bad and the company gets labeled as a spammer. Outbound filtering protects you from user mistakes, saving your organization from embarrassment and service interruptions.

2. Anti-everything, not just spam

A good anti-spam service does more than just filter out spam. It will also filter out phishing messages, malware, and can defend against other email attacks like Directory Harvesting and DoS attacks. Look for an anti-spam service that offers the total package.

3. Web-based management

You don’t want to have to install software to work with a hosted service. You want to be able to manage it from a web browser. Make sure your anti-spam service has a web-based portal and doesn’t require any on-premise software, agent, or appliance.

4. Self-service features for users

The best anti-spam service is one that minimizes the amount of work associated with it. Look for things like daily email digests sent to each user, individual quarantines, and the ability for your end users to find and release false positives themselves, so you don’t have to.

5. Logging and searching capabilities

If all of your email is going through an anti-spam service, then that service has the best view on what is happening with sent and received emails. Make sure your anti-spam service provider has good logging, and a functional search you can use to check on status for messages based on sender, recipient, subject, time frame, etc.

6. Archiving

And since all that email is going through the provider, they should also be in a position to archive it all for you. You may not want archiving today, but you may very well need it tomorrow based on a new contract, legislation, or litigation. Keep your options open by selecting an anti-spam service that can also do archiving.

7. Multiple language support

If you are international, it’s nice if you can offer services to your users and admins in their native tongue. The best anti-spam services include support for multiple languages, making it easier for global businesses, or even just those where more than one language is spoken.

8. Product neutral

An anti-spam service should not care what email suite you are using; SMTP is SMTP. If they favor one product or another, it might lock you into your chosen suite. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing today but you want to keep your options open, and any service that is not product neutral may be that way because you have to install agent software to use it. You don’t want that.

Any anti-spam service provider should make it easy to sign up for a free trial, which will let you test drive the features to be sure you like what you are getting. Any that don’t offer a free trial probably aren’t worth looking at. If your anti-spam service offers the majority of these, you’ve got a good contender. If it offers all of these, you’ve found the one.