Email Setup Options: IMAP versus POP
Most email providers offer two ways to setup your email IMAP and POP. The most well-known and up until now the most popular is POP (Post Office Protocol) and the other is IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). Below is a breakdown of what POP and IMAP can and cannot do for you and the benefits of using one over the other on your devices when you are getting, saving, replying and sharing emails between advice’s.
Note: Most email clients today now automatically set up your emails on the device as IMAP. Whereas in the past you chose either POP or IMAP in the set up process.
POP (Post Office Protocol)
The POP method push messages to a device (computer, phone) and they sit there on your device. Depending on your email setup depends on how this really works. Basically all emails get delivered to all of your devices and you deal with messages on each and every device.
So POP is a one-way email street, from the mail server to your device where it is kept on your hard drive or hard drives if using multiple devices.
This means with POP email setups reply emails from an account are NOT reflected on any other device you have.
However POP emails are backed up only as far back as the storage capacity of your email account and/or your own computer’s hard drive or backup.
With POP email set up, loosing your computer’s data means, then you’ve lost your emails
The advantage of POP is that you don’t need a large mail server as the server only holds your emails until you open your email client on your device and then you download to your hard drive.
IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol)
IMAP is for email users that like their email to be “the same” across all devices, IMAP is the sure-fire way to go.
IMAP keeps your email client synced with the email server. If you delete an email in the inbox, it deletes it across all devices. This method is helpful when trying to manage large volumes of email and when replying from various devices throughout the day.
Better yet with IMAP, you can create folders using the IMAP account and they will sync across all devices keeping all of your email with you at all times. IMAP is a two-way street. Users on an Exchange Server have the same functionality as IMAP accounts.
POP is recommended over IMAP when a users is a heavy email users, someone that keeps all old unnecessary email that don’t require the dynamics of IMAP. Sometimes IMAP is the ONLY option an email provider offers.
However, one may choose to use POP over IMAP if s/he wants an original copy of every incoming message s/he gets on every device s/he owns.
Why should someone using POP convert to IMAP? Someone who uses multiple devices to check, respond to and send emails would benefit greatly from IMAP due to its cross-device access. No matter what device you are on you can see your email in the same way. You can still have computer-based folders for emails that don’t need to sync across all devices if storage is an issue.
The disadvantage of IMAP is – the mail server size required is much much larger that required by POP emails (and can be more expensive for domain email users eg firstname.lastname@example.org) than POP users. This is amplified by lazy users that don’t sort and delete old unwanted emails.