Difference Between POP3 and IMAP Print

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IMAP and POP3 are methods used by your computer to access e-mail messages from a remote server. We suggest use the one appropreate for your requirements.

How Do POP & IMAP Compare?

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is an advanced protocol for receiving e-mail. It is a method of accessing e-mail messages which are stored on a mail server.

IMAP allow remote access to emails stored on a remote server. The idea was to allow multiple clients or users to manage the same inbox. So whether you log in from your home or your work computer, you will always see the same emails and folder structure since they are stored on the server and all changes you make to local copies are immediately synced to the server.

As a result, IMAP has the following advantages:

  • Mail stored on remote server, i.e. accessible from multiple different locations
  • Internet connection needed to access mail
  • Faster overview as only headers are downloaded until content is explicitly requested
  • Mail is automatically backed up if server is managed properly
  • Saves local storage space
  • Option to store mail locally

POP3 stands for Post Office Protocol version 3. When an email is sent to your address, it is stored on the mail server until it is downloaded via your email client (Outlook, your mobile, etc.) using POP3. After the email has been downloaded to your client, it is removed from the server at a predefine period configured at your client side.

This leads to the following advantages:

  • Mail stored locally, i.e. always accessible, even without internet connection
  • Internet connection needed only for sending and receiving mail
  • Saves server storage space
  • Option to leave copy of mail on server
  • Consolidate multiple email accounts and servers into one inbox


What Is The Best Email Protocol For Me?

it depends on your specific requirements and you probably have an idea of what is best suited for your situation already.
The points below should help to make a final decision.

Choose POP If…

  • you need constant access to your email, regardless of internet availability
  • your server storage space is limited
  • you know how to backup your email offline

Choose IMAP If…

  • you want to access your email from multiple different devices
  • you have a reliable and constant internet connection
  • you want to receive a quick overview of new emails or emails on the server
  • your local storage space is limited
  • you are worried about backing up

If in doubt, go with IMAP. It’s the more modern protocol, it allows you to be flexible, your email is automatically backed up on the server.

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