POP vs. IMAP: Which One is Right for You?

by | Oct 17, 2013 | Resources | 0 comments


If you have ever experienced the thrill of setting up an email app or client, you most certainly have had to deal with the terms POP and IMAP. However, you might not be able to recall which protocol you chose, or why.

POP is simply a short acronym for Post Office Protocol, while IMAP refers to Internet Message Access Protocol. Both of them provide the ability to read emails through a third-party application. Some of those applications might include Andorra, Thunderbird, (Mac) Mail & Outlook. Back in the early days, POP was the only protocol.

Deciding which one is best for you should be determined on what better fits your needs. The differences include:

POP Service:

  • Single Desktop Computer – POP is ideally suited for a single computer. It struggles when dealing with email messages across multiple platforms, or on different machines.
  • Download and Deleted – Typically, a message is downloaded to the single computer and then deleted off the mail server.
  • Storage Challenges – The POP option of “keep mail on server” can instantly transform your inbox to something huge and cumbersome. POP has storage challenges and makes the system inefficient.

IMAP Service:

  • Multiple Computer Capability – IMAP is designed to handle email on multiple computers including a laptop, workstation, or other mobile platform.
  • Mail Server Storage – Instead of downloading messages to a single computer, IMAP keeps all messages out on the cloud, for instant access from any computer, with Internet access.
  • Organization – You can easily create subfolders that remain on the mail server and fully organize your inbox.

If you know you are going to work on a single computer only, and never need access to your email remotely, then POP is most likely for you. However, if you are going to work from multiple locations, and need to synchronize emails with an email client on the server, then IMAP will be ideally suited for you.

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