In this blog post we continue our review of GFI MailEssentials, this time focusing on the basic operation of the software.
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In this raffle you can win a GFI MailEssentials license for 200 users, valued $2300USD. The deadline for this contest is August 26, 2012. If you want to have a chance to win this license, please send an email with the subject “3CX” to .

In part 1 of our review of GFI MailEssentials e-mail security and anti-spam software, we covered major features, product editions, and licensing structure. In today’s installment we focus on how the product works from a practical viewpoint.

To get started, you can download the software and obtain an evaluation license key by visiting the GFI Web site. The software is completely unrestricted while it operates in evaluation mode, so systems administrators can make use of all included product features.


GFI MailEssentials manifests itself on your server as a Microsoft ASP.NET 4.0 Web application. Thus, for installation to succeed you must perform the following actions:

After installation, you will see several new shortcuts in your server’s Start menu. These are shown in the following figure:

GFI MailEssentials Start menu shortcuts

GFI MailEssentials Start menu shortcuts

  • Administrator Guide: A link to a local copy of the product documentation
  • Anti Spam Synchronization Agent: MMC console from which you can synchronize anti-spam metadata among multiple servers
  • E-mail Management Tools: MMC console from which you can manage HTML disclaimers, auto-replies, and the like
  • MailEssentials Configuration: A link to the MailEssentials administration Web site
  • Switchboard: A Windows Control Panel applet with which you can customize global service/application behaviors
  • Troubleshooter: A wizard that walks you through the creation of a GFI support incident

Server configuration

The vast majority of GFI MailEssentials administration is performed from the Administration Web site, which can be started from the MailEssentials Configuration shortcut in your Start menu. The main Dashboard interface is depicted in the following figure:

GFI MailEssentials Configuration

GFI MailEssentials configuration

Besides the Dashboard, which is intended to provide administrators with “at a glance” information concerning the status of GFI MailEssentials services and quarantine statistics, the left-hand navigation menu provides us with one-click access to all product components. This navigation structure is shown in the following exhibit:

GFI MailEssentials admin panel

GFI MailEssentials admin panel

You will recall from part 1 of this review that a multi-engine scanning approach is the chief differentiator between GFI MailEssentials and its competition. In the EmailSecurity node, we can manage subscriptions and scan behavior of up to five different virus scanning engines:

  • BitDefender
  • Kaspersky
  • Norman
  • McAfee

Moreover, the anti-spam module consists of the following subcomponents:

  • SpamRazer
  • Anti-Phishing
  • Directory Harvesting
  • E-mail blocklists/whitelists
  • IP/DNS/URI blocklists/greylists
  • Bayesian Analysis

With such rich and robust anti-malware scanning capability, systems administrators need equally rich and robust tools for managing the quarantine. As you can see in the following screen capture, the GFI MailEssentials Quarantine node enables us to report on detected malware by specifying multiple criteria, including date range and recipient.

As expected, we can manually approve or permanently delete items that have been captured to the MailEssentials quarantine.

GFI MailEssentials quarantine

GFI MailEssentials quarantine

To that point, GFI MailEssentials offers several built-in report templates to give us (and our bosses) rich insight into the types of malware received by your organization. As you can observe in the following figure, the pre-built reports include the following:

  • E-mails Blocked
  • E-mails Blocked Graph
  • E-mail Direction Chart
  • E-mail Direction
  • User Report
  • Spam Filter
  • Spam Filter Graph

Generating GFI MailEssentials reports

Generating GFI MailEssentials reports

End user experience

The GFI MailEssentials administrator determines during product installation and/or from within the administration Web site whether suspected spam messages are captured to quarantine or delivered to your users.

As you can see in the following screenshot, the default action is to deliver suspected spam e-mail messages to a subfolder of your users’ Outlook Inbox.

GFI MailEssentials - Specifying spam mail destination

Specifying spam mail destination

The following screenshot shows the end-user’s view of the additional GFI MailEssentials Inbox subfolders. The GFI Outlook add-in gives users great control over the blacklisting and whitelisting of suspected spam e-mail messages.

GFI MailEssentials Outlook Inbox

GFI MailEssentials Outlook inbox


In this installment we learned the basic mechanics of GFI MailEssentials from installation, configuration, and user experience viewpoints. You can learn more about this product by reading the Administrator Guide or by watching GFI’s helpful YouTube videos.

In this raffle you can win a GFI MailEssentials license for 200 users, valued $2300USD. The deadline for this contest is August 26, 2012. If you want to have a chance to win this license, please send an email with the subject “3CX” to.


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