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Email 101: POP vs IMAP


E-mail is one of the most crucial tools we use in business and personal communication. It is extremely important we can access our e-mail at work, on our laptops at home, and on the go with our cell phones. This article will walk you through the basic differences of POP vs IMAP and what it means to you.

POP E-mail


POP is still the most common protocol when accessing your e-mail. It’s fast and simple to setup. It will reach out to your mail server and download entire messages to your e-mail client. Disabling “save messages on server” in your e-mail client will remedy the worry of storage space on the server. E-mail will be locally stored on your computer versus the server. Pro
  • Easy to configure

  • Fast

  • Storage is based on your local computer storage (when configured properly)

However, there is a drawback. Because messages are not staying on the server, your limited to where you can access them. Limited POP Access Example:

Your work PC is setup to keep messages on the server. You work throughout the day POPing your e-mail but not removing it from the server. Once home, you check your e-mail with your laptop. Your laptop is setup to download all messages from the server. Once you check your e-mail, any new messages from the time you left work, to the time you checked at home will now reside on the laptop. The next time you are at work, you will not have access to those messages.


This is the most common drawback of the POP protocol. If you need “sync” access to your mail in multiple locations while trying to control storage – POP is not for you. Con
  • Cannot “sync” multiple locations

  • Works strictly out of a single inbox

  • Limited storage if saving to a server

Let’s have a look at the alternative – IMAP.

IMAP E-mail


IMAP is just as easy to setup as POP – it just works differently behind the scenes. Using IMAP will allow you to “subscribe” to your mailbox in multiple locations. This is useful to solve the example above or if you are a smartphone user. IMAP can also make use of folders. You can create subfolders under your inbox to archive your messages and sort them as you see fit. POP cannot do this and is

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