Difference between POP and IMAP

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POP and IMAP are two different protocols for email clients to access your emails on the email server, and in this article we’ll show you the difference between the two.

Email clients are like devices all software that checks your emails such as Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, iPhones, iPads, Eudora, Entourage, and so on.

POP stands for Post Office Protocol is an one-way communication where the emails are downloaded and stored on your local computer by your email client. Once downloaded, then whatever you do to it, the mail server does not know about it. Depending on the server settings, the email often is deleted from the mail server as the email is downloaded. So if you check email using another device, it will not see the email because it had already been downloaded.

Basically, POP clients typically work like this… It connects to mail server, downloads all messages, delete them from mail server, and disconnect. That’s it.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) on the other hand is a two-way communication where your email client is just a view of what is on the mail server. IMAP is more convenient when accessing your mail via multiple devices because IMAP leaves all of your messages on your webhost server. But check if your webhost mail server support IMAP (most do).

Most people now prefer IMAP over POP, because it is more convenient when accessing mail from multiple devices. IMAP may also be more stable; whereas POP has a greater chance of losing messages and multiple downloading of messages.

Google recommends IMAP for Gmail users for example and also explains the difference between the two.

Gmail Blog and University of Minnesota have good explanations of the difference between IMAP and POP.

Follow these links for tutorials on configuring email client like Thunderbird to access your new email using POP or to access it using IMAP.