Articles » POP vs IMAP What is the difference

We are ofthen asked the question "What's the difference between POP and IMAP? What should I use?".

Both IMAP and POP are different protocols used to connect to an e-mail account and access its data(your email messages). Each protocol has its own unique benefit, listed below is information on both methods:

stands for “Internet Message Access Protocol”. This protocol allows you to download your e-mails from the server to your e-mail program the same as the POP method does. However, the difference is that when you request your e-mail from the server it sends a copy of the message. It then keeps a copy of the e-mail on the server while simultaneously keeping a copy on your computer.

When you connect the IMAP mail server with your local computer, it senses that there are differences between the local computer and the mail server. It then synchronizes both so that they have the same information.

For example, if you delete messages, compose more and have sent others, this information will be synceronised with the IMAP server so that the IMAP server will delete the copies of the messages that were deleted. By the time you log off the IMAP server you have two complete copies of all of the e-mail tasks performed: one on the IMAP server and one on your local computer. Safe and secure!

POP stands for “Post Office Protocol”. It works very simply, when the POP e-mail server receives an e-mail it stores it on the server until you to request it. By simply opening your email program (e.g. Outlook or Thunderbird) you request the e-mail from the server. The e-mail program in essence asks the server if there is any mail waiting. If there is, it tells the server to send it to you.

When the POP server receives your request for mail, it sends the entire message to your e-mail program. Once you receive the email, the message is no longer stored on the server unless you specifically tell it to keep a copy.

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