Lab test: Tumbleweed MailGate

Tumbleweed's unique admin features, strong filtering, and good value make it worth a close look

The Tumbleweed MailGate 5650 (v3.1.2-4366-HF1) offers a broad set of features at a reasonable price, along with good anti-spam capabilities. Tumbleweed took third place in false positives and seventh in filtering, with a solid 95.5 percent catch rate. In addition, its bulk classification was actually useful, with 97.48 percent of mail classified as bulk being truly bulk mail.

The Tumbleweed boasts some interesting enterprise-class features, including clustering not only within a datacenter but over a WAN, policy-based encryption, and excellent granular permissions for users and administrators.

Setup of the MailGate is easy and quick, with few settings that need to be changed or tuned to get the optimum configuration. Content filtering performance was excellent, with scanning of zip archives as well as many different file types. Policies can be multilevel, using if-then and other conditional statements. The system includes pre-built word lists for a variety of content filtering applications.

[ Compare spam filtering statistics for the mail security appliances tested. Compare their features. Return to “Test Center guide: Mail security appliances.” See reviews of the appliances from Barracuda, BorderWare, Cisco, Mirapoint, Proofpoint, Secure Computing, Sendio, Symantec, and Tumbleweed. ]

In a very nice touch, the MailGate e-mails the configuration of each system to the administrator daily, so it can be easily restored in case of problems. Backup of the mail store is automated, another unusual feature among these appliances. 

The MailGate appliance can connect to Tumbleweed via a specified port for support without having to open holes in the firewall. It also has , and can identify and block the top spam-only networks. The policy-based encryption is easy to configure and use, both server to server and user to user, though the user-to-user system is not quite as easy for end-users as Voltage SecureMail (see review).

Tumbleweed provides no Outlook plug-in, but the end-user quarantine access via Web browser is fairly easy to use, with granular permissions available to allow end-users varying degrees of control over whitelisting, blacklisting, and reporting misclassified messages back to Tumbleweed. Unfortunately, there is no wild card or domain-level whitelisting, so each address must be added separately.

The Tumbleweed MailGate offers a good set of enterprise-class features at a good price. It isn't quite as polished as the Symantec offering, but its combination of nice features and good filtering capabilities should put it on any shortlist for evaluation.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Value (10.0%)
Effectiveness (30.0%)
Scalability (20.0%)
Setup (10.0%)
Manageability (30.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
Tumbleweed MailGate 5650 v3.1.2-4366-HF1 9.0 9.0 8.0 8.0 8.0 8.4
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