IMAP and POP are two methods to access your emails. IMAP is the recommended method when you need to check your emails from several different devices, such as a phone, laptop, and tablet.

IMAP is short for Internet Message Access Protocol, while POP translates to Post Office Protocol. In other words, both are email protocols. They allow you to read emails locally using a third party application. Examples of such applications are Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora, GNUMail, or (Mac) Mail.

IMAP

IMAP allows you to access your email wherever you are, from any device. When you read an email message using IMAP, you aren’t actually downloading or storing it on your device; instead, you’re reading it from the email server. As a result, you can check your emails from different devices, anywhere in the world.

IMAP only downloads a message when you click on it, and attachments aren’t automatically downloaded. This way you’re able to check your messages a lot more quickly than POP.

Choose IMAP If…

  • You want to access your email from multiple different devices.
  • You have a reliable and constant internet connection.
  • You want to receive a quick overview of new emails or emails on the server. 
  • Your local storage space is limited.
  • You are worried about backing your emails up.

POP

POP works by contacting your email server and downloading all of your new messages from it. Once they are downloaded onto your device, they are deleted from the email server. This means that after the email is downloaded, it can only be accessed using the same device. If you try to access your email from a different device, the messages that have been previously downloaded won’t be available to you.

Sent mail is stored locally on your device, not on the email server. However, some email apps allow you to store a copy of your emails on the email server, too.

Choose POP If…

  • You want to access your mail from only one single device.
  • You need constant access to your email, regardless of internet availability.
  • You have limited server storage.

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