Should I use POP or IMAP?

POP and IMAP are just two different ways of receiving e-mails. They each have their own unique  ways of handling mail.


POP or “Post Office Protocol” is the most basic way to receive email. When the POP server receives an email it stores it on the server until you hit ‘send/receive’ in your mail program. When you hit the send/receive button your mail client checks the server for new messages and then requests any new messages be downloaded off our mail server and onto your computer.  This removes your messages from our server and leaves your mail stored only on the local PC that you’ve downloaded it to.


IMAP or “Internet Messaging Access Protocol” is just another way of receiving mail. It allows you to download your emails to your local computer and automatically leaves a copy of these messages on the server.  IMAP will allow messages from the server to be available for download from multiple devices. For example, if you delete a message from your Outlook client inbox it will then show as deleted (with a line through it) in your inbox until you permanently remove it and not be downloaded by another device after that.

The downside to IMAP is that it’s a bit slower due to messages being re-downloaded each time you access your inbox, but, you are not taking up storage space on your devices as the messages are not being downloaded only stored on the server.


Now, to decide which one is right for you…  A few questions you might want to ask yourself are:

  1. Do I need to sync my mail with multiple devices?
  2. Do I need to keep a backup copy of my e-mail messages?
  3. Do I always have a network connection available when I need to see my messages?
  4. Do I need redundancy for my e-mail?
  5. Am I limited by storage space because I am using a portable device, such as a smart phone, to check my mail?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions you are likely better off using IMAP protocol.

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