POP Versus IMAP Protocols | Similarities and Differences

POP

This stands for “Post Office Protocol” and should be used when you would like to store your emails on your computer rather than on the server. An email account setup as a POP email account will download all messages off of the server to your computer. By default, after the download is complete, the messages will then be removed from the server. This frees up space on the server for more messages to come in. Some email clients will allow you to configure the account to leave a copy of the message on the server in addition to downloading it. This is useful for people who like to get their email with their mobile devices. If you do decide to leave a copy of the messages on the server you will want to be sure that the email client removes these copies after a period of time. If these copies are not removed you will find that your email space is used up rather quickly. Some may find that deleting a message on their mobile device does not remove it from their computers inbox and vice versa. This is because multiple copies of the same message exist.

IMAP

An account setup with IMAP will synchronize with the server. All of the messages are left on the server and can be accessed by any number of email clients using the IMAP protocol. This takes up space on the server – but ensures that your emails are safe even if your hard drive melts. The IMAP method requires a user to be more proactive about cleaning up their email box. If a user does not clean up his email box he will soon run out of email space. This method is also good for users of mobile devices. Any changes made to the messages of an IMAP account from a mobile device will be reflected on the computers inbox – and vice versa. This is because IMAP accounts run directly off of the server.