Spam volume in the month of March declined very slightly to 87 percent of all messages according to Postini.

Volume was 88 percent in February. On a year-over-year basis, March spam volume grew 10 percent (March 2005, 87 percent; March 2004, 77 percent). Despite spam's apparent growth, it isn't as ''bad'' this year as it was in 2004, according to a new Pew Internet & American Life Project study.

Multiple sources say spam volume has, generally speaking, been on the rise for at least the past year, inching closer to 100 percent of all e-mail.

''In theory, spam can get arbitrarily close to 100 percent of e-mail, but can never quite get there,'' Andrew Lochart, Postini's senior director of product marketing, told ClickZ Stats. ''In practice, the percentage will grow more slowly because it takes a lot more spam these days to add one percent to the total. ''Yes, the level of spam is still rising, and we think it will be around 92 percent be the end of 2005,'' he added.

The Pew study sheds a different light on the tide. While there may be more spam out there, it's bothering end users less, their study found. Whereas Postini's quantitative research measures the volume of all e-mail sent (before filtering), Pew's qualitative study is based on users' awareness, behavior and attitudes toward spam. As Lockhart points out, ''More spam is being sent. Less is being received in inboxes.''

Forty-seven percent of respondents to the survey reported no change in the volume of spam in their personal e-mail accounts from 2004 to 2005. Twenty-two percent said they were getting less spam, and 28 percent said they were getting more spam in their personal accounts. The majority of business e-mail account users (53 percent) noted no change in the volume of spam received over the last year; 16 percent received less, and only 21 percent said they were getting more.

Spam is having less of an effect on users, according to the Pew survey. In 2004, 77 percent of respondents said spam made the online experience unpleasant or annoying. That number fell to 67 percent in 2005. Only 22 percent of users now report spam has caused them to reduce their use of e-mail, down from 29 percent in 2004.

This article was first published on ClickZ.com. To read the full article, click here.