Setting up an email account in one of the email clients, you might have been wondering, what is POP3 & IMAP, and which one is better? The answer to this question is simple – it all depends on your preferences. POP3 (Post Office Protocol) pulls all email messages from the mail server and stores them in a mail client on your local computer.
Normally, mail client, installed on your computer, working with POP3 removes all retrieved messages from the mail server, either immediately or after a specified number of days. This means that message will only be present on a machine it has been downloaded to. If you are using more than one device for accessing your email, then utilizing POP3 protocol might become somewhat of a problem for you.
What is POP3?
Generally, POP3 is the original, widely used email protocol. POP3 is the acronym for Post Office Protocol, which fully explains its purpose. Just like the post office, POP provides the administration, processing and delivery of your message, as if it was an ordinary letter. Once the letter is delivered, the post office forgets about it and erases everything that was associated with this letter. Previously, it was necessary because storage was expensive and mail servers were limited to available memory. Service providers typically set storage quotas. In order to continue to process e-mails and make room for new messages, it was important to delete old messages.
What is IMAP?
Of the two, IMAP protocol is newer. Internet Message Access Protocol, as it name implies, is designed for accessing and processing messages. If you use IMAP, a mail client receives a list of all messages that are on the mail server. In your email application, you can download a local copy of each message to be displayed, but the message remains on the server, as long as it will not be deleted directly by you. If you use multiple devices to handle your mail, IMAP would be the best solution. Almost all the major public webmail services (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) use IMAP. Even Microsoft Exchange is one of IMAP forms. IMAP allows you to easily synchronize mail between your computer (s), phone, tablet and web mail. This is all possible because the mail server stores a copy of your mail. Typically, all devices that are able to work with emails utilize this protocol and can easily be synchronized with the mail server.
Let us now see how, in practice, the difference between these two protocols. If we use multiple devices to handle our e-mail: office computer, home computer, smartphone, tablet and web-mail, we will have problems using POP3. After reviewing your webmail at work, we automatically delete these emails from the server, this happens at the moment it is downloaded to your computer. This means that the messages that we read at work will not be available for us when we come home. It also means that, if we read the e-mails from home, we will not see them again while at work. The usual solution is to get the to mail only one device, or set time before removal, which should be long enough so that we can retrieve these emails on a different device.
In the current era IMAP has clear advantages. Finding each e-mail message is clear: it is located on the mail server. Moreover, since email storage no longer requires extremely expensive devices, POP3 has lost all it’s advantage. Today, very few of the e-mail service providers use old POP3 protocol. If you do not have a very specific reason to use POP3, it is better to settle on IMAP.
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- On August 12, 2016
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