What Are The Differences Between IMAP And POP Email?

What Are The Differences Between IMAP And POP Email?

If you have ever configured an email client, chances are you’ve come across the terms IMAP and POP. If you’re not sure what these terms stand for or how they affect your email account, well you’re lucky as this article sheds some light on these two terms. To start things off, IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol while POP stands for Post Office Protocol. These two are mail protocols that enable you to read emails using mail clients like Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook or GNU Mail. Below are the differences between IMAP and POP email protocols.

Differences Between IMAP And POP

What is the difference between IMAP and POP email? You may wonder. Well, there are numerous differences between IMAP and POP email. POP is the original protocol and was introduced in 1984 while IMAP was developed in 1986. However, the main distinction between these two is that IMAP always syncs with the email server which ensures that any changes you effect using a third party application or email client (Microsoft Outlook or Thunderbird) will immediately be reflected on your webmail account. On the contrary, with POP, the email server does not sync with your mail client account. Consequently, any changes you effect on your mail client won’t be updated on your webmail account.

In simple terms, note that IMAP doesn’t download emails from the mail server for permanent local storage. What happens is that once you mark any mail as read using your mail client, it will also appear as read on your webmail account because the mail server synchronizes any changes you make on your mail client. However, when using POP, it’s a different kettle of fish. Your emails are downloaded on your computer, and the changes you make won’t appear or be detected by the mail server.

Which One Should I Choose? POP or IMAP?

Having noted the differences between IMAP and POP email, the next step is to determine which one is ideal for you. POP works in a simplistic way and assumes that it’s better to store mails locally and that only one person requires email access on the mail server. The main advantage of this protocol is that mails are stored locally and can always be accessed even when you don’t have an internet connection. This protocol also allows you to save server storage space and what’s more, you only need an internet connection when sending and receiving emails.

IMAP, on the other hand, assumes that multiple clients need to manage the same inbox that is stored on a remote server. Hence, whether you access your emails using your home or work computer, you will see the same mails or folders since they are stored on a remote server, and any changes you effect on your mail clients are synced to the remote server. IMAP is a better option than POP because unlike POP which saves on mail server space, IMAP saves on local storage space especially if your hard disk is limited in size. Also, IMAP backs up your emails if the remote server is managed properly. Lastly, the most important thing about this protocol is that it allows you to access your emails from multiple locations.

Differences between IMAP and POP email -Gmail POP/IMAP settings.

Some Closing Remarks

IMAP and POP are protocols you can use to set up your email accounts, but sometimes it can be confusing to know which protocol is ideal for you. If you have any doubts, the best one to choose is IMAP simply because it offers flexibility and backs up your emails automatically on the server. However, there is a chance to change from IMAP to POP and vice versa in most email programs such as GMAIL and YAHOO hence you won’t have to worry about choosing them. Finally, it’s always up to you to choose which email protocol is best for you based on the advantages each one has.