Difference between IMAP and POP3

This article discusses about the difference between IMAP and POP3. Of which is the better option for you when setting up your email address with email clients and devices.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) and POP3 (Post Office Protocol) are two different protocols (methods) used to access email. Each has its own advantages.

IMAP is the better option if you need to check your emails from multiple devices, such as a work laptop, a home computer, or a tablet, smartphone, or other mobile devices. Tap into your synced (updated) account from any device with IMAP and emails saved in the server will be accessible.

In cases wherein devices like phones or computers are lost or non-functional, you can access your emails online via Webmail. Also, see How to access my webmail?

POP3 on the other hand, downloads Inbox emails from the server to the device, then deletes it from the server.  However, other folders (Sent folders for example) that are saved on the server are not downloaded automatically. Which means, you may need to manually check it through Webmail. Unless, the email you have sent is from the device itself. So POP3 is most useful if you want to keep all your emails with one device, check it there, and not from any other device.

Depending on your personal style of communicating and whom you prefer to get your email service from, you can pretty quickly narrow down how you should use your email.

  • If you check your email from  multiple devices, like phones or computers, it is highly suggested that you setup the email account with IMAP.
  • If you use mostly webmail and want your phone or iPad to sync with your webmail, use IMAP as well.
  • If you’re using one email client on one dedicated machine (say, in your office), you may use POP3.
  • If you have a huge history of email and you’re using an old mail provider without a lot of email storage space, you may want to use POP3 to keep from running out of space on the remote email server.
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