If you’ve ever been in a position to set an application on your phone to receive messages or some of your email clients, you have to choose between POP and IMAP settings.
I will explain how POP and IMAP protocols work, what are the key differences, what are the advantages and disadvantages of one and the other protocol and based on the above – which email protocol to choose.
IMAP is an acronym for the Internet Message Access Protocol, while the POP acronym for the Post Office Protocol. Both protocols are used to process e-mail transfers between email servers and email clients (such as Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook, Eudora, or some other e-mail application).
Originally, the original protocol was POP. POP1 was created in 1984 as a means of downloading e-mail from a remote server, while IMAP was created in 1986 and provided remote access to email messages on a remote server. Active POP3 and IMAP4 are currently active.
How does the POP protocol work?
The POP protocol downloads email messages from the server and move them locally, after which the message is deleted from the server. This means that any changes that can be linked to emails such as deletion, copying, or new messaging messages will only be visible on a local computer. In the situation that another person wants to access messages from another location, all changes made will not be visible. Many POP clients have the option to keep duplicate messages on the server itself, but this option does not fall into the default settings.
How does the IMAP protocol work?
In the IMAP protocol, things are different. In this case, email messages remain on the server while simultaneously storing copies and on the email client side. Thus, the IMAP protocol does not delete server messages after switching to a local mail client. This in practice also means that all changes to the email client side such as read messages, adding sent messages or deleting deleted emails are regularly updated both on the side of the email server and on the client side.
Advantages and Disadvantages of POP Email Protocol
- Emails are saved locally and do not require internet connectivity to access them
- Internet connection is only required when sending or receiving messages
- Less storage space on the server side (keeping in mind that messages are deleted after download)
- POP servers enable the option of saving a copy of email messages on the server itself
- There is a possibility to group multiple mail orders into one inbox,
- Since email messages are not kept on the server, there is no chance of data loss due to unwanted actions (for example – hack)
- Any activity related to daily use of email messages is not synchronized between computers
- Messages are located in only one (local) location. In the event of hard disk problems, all messages may be lost
- POP servers are not compatible with Webmail software
Advantages and Disadvantages of IMAP Protocols
- Since email messages are stored on a remote server, messages can be accessed from different devices and locations using different access programs
- It is necessary to have an Internet connection for accessing messages
- IMAP is faster because only necessary information, such as headers, is downloaded, as long as no other request is required
- Changes to the email client side are also regularly updated to the email server side
- Storage of storage space on the premises
- In the case of a local computer problem, email messages are still there and can be accessed via another device
- The server email space may be limited. This is mostly the case if the email is used as part of a shared hosting service.
Messages are on the server, so there is a question of security and potential loss of data in case of unauthorized actions.
- Offline access to messages that depend on the selected email client
POP or IMAP? What to choose?
The POP protocol is recommended for those users who want (offline) access to messages from only one device. Also, POP is a good solution if you have first-class security or you do not have enough space on the server side. Today, when the Internet is literally available everywhere and when access is often needed from multiple devices at a time, POP does not have any usable value in relation to IMAP.
The IMAP protocol, on the other hand, is recommended to all those who have a stable Internet connection and use multiple computers or devices to receive and read email messages, since by selecting IMAP, all changes on one device are automatically synchronized at other locations.
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