Knowledgebase: Email
POP3 VS. IMAP
Posted by Chris Atherton on 03 October 2011 04:32 PM

When setting up your email service on your mail client (Outlook, Thunderbird, Mac, IPhone, etc.) you will be asked to select the method to connect to your mail box or protocol. The options will be between POP3 and IMAP.  Each protocol is designed for a particular purpose and the operation of the service will change depending on which protocol you select.

 

 POP3

 

By default POP3 works by connecting to the mail server and locking the mail account (email address) from any other connections. It then downloads all the emails from the mail account, and then deletes them.  This means that your emails will be stored on the local machine where you are running your mail client.  POP3 is designed to be used by one device at a time.  You can configure your mail client to leave a copy of the emails on the mail server however.  POP3 is ideal for those users who are only connecting from one device and who wish to store their emails locally so as to reduce the disk space usage on their account.

 

 IMAP

 

IMAP works by connecting to the mail account and syncing the folders stored on the mail server with that of the mail client.  IMAP allows multiple connections at any one time so it is ideal for those users who use multiple devices to view emails, such as laptop and mobile phone.  The consequence of using IMAP is that if you do not delete emails or archive them on a local machine the disk space usage can quickly grow out of control.  IMAP will require more 'housekeeping' however to ensure that disk space is not overused.


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