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If you are lucky enough to have an email account that does not receive spam and unsolicited emails, you probably want to keep it that way.
Unfortunately, keeping an email address away from spammers can be difficult in the long run.
Here are some basic guidelines of what to do to keep your inbox as clean from spam as possible.
The main point to keep in mind is this: Never publish your email address in any way.
This includes any websites, forums, newsgroups, or any other way that might be accessible to the public. This also includes indirect ways such as if you join an online community where your email address is open to only members of the community. It is very likely that spammers will eventually find it there.
All publicly available places are trawled by spammers for fresh email addresses.
Even sticking to this basic rule might not keep your inbox free of spam. There are many alternative routes a spammer could use to get at your email address.
For example, your email address is probably in one of your friends' address book. If your friend would accidentally get a virus/trojan on the machine, it is not unlikely that this virus will lift your email address (and all others) from your friends address book and send it to the spammer. And they will start sending you spam.
Spammers also use other ways too which you can not protect yourself against. They can for example just start sending spam emails to random addresses of your ISP, and if you are unlucky, they guess yours.
Some ISPs respond back to the spammer if the email address they guessed does not exist and is invalid. So, if the ISP does not reply back with 'This user does not exist.', the spammer knows that the email address they guessed is valid.
Another way they can use to verify that any random email address is valid is to send an email with a reference (an invisible web link) to something external - like for example a small invisible picture. When you open the email to view it, the email client automatically loads the little picture from the external server (which belongs to the spammer). And because the external reference is designed in a special way unique to your email address, they will know that the email was opened by you.
Fortunately most new email clients have started to automatically block external links in emails.
These days it is very common that websites require you to leave your email address to get access to their services - for example to download their program. Giving them a fake email address might not work, cause the email they send to you might be important to get access to their service - like the download link of their program.
For these circumstances it is very convenient to have another valid email address created just for purposes like these. An email address that you can stop using at any point without fear of losing important emails. There are many places on the web where you can create free email accounts in a couple of minutes. Use this email address for such cases where a valid email address is required to get access to an online service. If this email address starts getting an annoyingly amount of spam, just throw it away, and create a new one. All the time keeping your important spam-free address away from the web.
If you have an important email address already that is getting spam, but you want to keep it for various reasons, there are two things you should do: 1. Get a spam filter like Aggressive Spam Defense. 2. Remove this email address wherever it is published online. At least replace the published email address with one that is designed for unimportant purposes.
You probably will not be able to keep your inbox spam-free forever, but following the guidelines above will minimize the amount of spam you get over time and keep the problem managable.