The Difference Between IMAP & POP3 E-mail

How you set up your e-mail will depend a bit on what you want and how you want to work. There are two ways to retrieve your e-mail from a server using an e-mail program. Both have their pros and cons which have been outlined below to help you decide which one is best for you.

POP3

  • computers & devices connect to the server and download e-mails
  • e-mails are removed from the server unless the program settings say otherwise
  • e-mails stored on any device separately
  • any new device that is configured will download all e-mails on the server and store them
  • takes up the most space on devices receiving e-mails
  • often tell the system to keep e-mails for a certain length of time, after which they are removed from the server
  • sent items are stored on the individual machines/devices

IMAP

  • all e-mails are held on the server and a copy is downloaded to all devices
  • when an e-mail is read on any device, all devices will update to record that e-mail as read (useful for one person’s e-mail, but not if multiple people need to read them)
  • once an e-mail is read it will not appear as unread again, even on a new device
  • if an e-mail is deleted from a device it is deleted from the server and all other devices
  • all e-mails are stored on the server which takes up more space; overtime e-mails either need archiving or deleting from the server
  • requires more bandwidth on a device to work because everything is on the server
  • the more common way of doing things now with smart phones etc.

With modern smartphones we recommend IMAP as the method of choice, IMAP enabled accounts mean that multiple devices can receive all emails and they keep in sync so users know which have been read.

If you would like more help and advice on understanding which e-mail method is best for you, please contact us via the Contact Us Page, our Facebook Page, or on Twitter.