IMAP Vs POP3, What Is Best For Me?

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IMAP vs POP3, What Is Best For Me?

 February 21st, 2019

Are you confused about IMAP (Internet Messaging Access Protocol) and POP3 (Post Office Protocol)?  Guess what?  You are not alone.  So here is a simple explanation to clear up the confusion.


With IMAP, both incoming and outgoing emails are stored on the server.  The purpose of IMAP is so that you can use more than one device to access your mail.  You can even use secured webmail on any computer to access your mail.  So if you are out at a meeting or sitting at your desk at work or even sitting at home, any device will be able to view your mail.  Once deleted, however, it is removed and no longer visible on any device. 

Also, folders can be created on the server to manage the messages better.  These folders can then be synchronized across all devices (even visible with secured webmail) that you use to check your email. Your email server also saves the ‚Äústatus: of an email, whether it has been read, unread, replied to, etc.  This will allow you to see the status of an email from any computer or device.  At first, only the header (sender, date, and subject) of an email is loaded.  You can then decide whether you want to download the complete email message.   Lastly, there are no more worries of lost email messages on your device(s) if they end up getting lost, destroyed (i.e., hard drive failure), or stolen.

Whether you are an employee or self-employed, this is your best choice, so that your email is always safe, you still have your email information with you, and it is accessible whenever you need it.


With POP3, both your incoming emails and outgoing emails are stored on a single device.  When you open an email client, your email will download off of the mail server and will be stored on your device.  It is important to note that your emails can only be accessed from a single device.  So if you download your mail at home and then log into a computer at work or attempt to access your mail via webmail, your mail will not be there because you downloaded it already.

However, if you want to keep messages on the server, make sure the setting "Keep email on the server" is enabled, or all messages are deleted from the server once downloaded to your email client.  This option, however, can get confusing because should you delete this mail in your email client, it will NOT remove it off of the server.  The same email will download again.  This is when you should choose the IMAP feature instead.  Some email clients may accidentally lose already downloaded mail if you switch.  You should, therefore, either select IMAP at the outset or, make sure you back up your downloaded mail.  Lastly, unless you backup your email and place it on either a storage service or a flash drive, etc., should your device be damaged or stolen, this email could be lost.

POP3 is typically used by individuals who do not need to use IMAP.  This is the best option for end-users who do not use multiple devices.  Just remember to back up your email.


Before you select a protocol when connecting to your mail, make your initial decision to choose IMAP or POP3.  Your trusted hosting provider should have a knowledge base page that will assist you in setting up your email client or mobile device.  For businesses, it is recommended to use the IMAP feature, while end-users who do not connect on multiple devices should choose POP3.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

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