IMAP and POP3 are two different protocols that can be used to check emails, and most mail clients will ask you which one to use when checking your email. Each one has its own peculiarities, advantages and disadvantages. In this article we'll take a look at IMAP and POP3 and what each of them is good for.
What is IMAP?
IMAP, or the Internet Message Access Protocol, is the most recent protocol that is used to retrieve messages from a server.
When a computer accesses emails using IMAP, the messages are stored on a mail server. They remain there, but can be accessed from any device.
The advantage to using IMAP is that you can access your full email history from any device. If you want to use multiple devices to check your mail, you can. The messages you receive are available from any connected machine.
The disadvantage to using IMAP is that the emails all have to be stored on a server. This takes up space, and if you have only a limited amount then you can have problems with storing archived emails to refer back to later. You would have to regularly back up your emails in another safe location and then delete them from the server or purchase more disk space when yours runs out.
What is POP3?
POP3, or the Post Office Protocol version 3, is an older model of email communication, but one that can be very useful for certain types of messaging.
When a computer accesses emails using POP3, it downloads them and deletes the original message from the server.
The advantage to using POP3 is that you don't have to use a lot of online disk space to store lots of archived mail. If having access to older emails is important to you, then POP3 is the most space-efficient way to go.
The disadvantage to using POP3 is that emails are tied to one device. It's hard to access your mail from a mobile phone or different computer unless you forward the emails or transfer the files in some other way.