IMAP vs POP what is the difference?

A common question we get and something we do our best to explain to customers before setting up their Email account is what should we use – IMAP or POP for our desktop and mobile clients.

In this blog post we will do our best to explain the differences in the best way possible without too much technical Jargon!

POP – Post office Protocol

So to keep it basic ‘POP’ is old and basic, this was created for emails only to be handled on one device rather than multiple devices. In many cases once the email is downloaded to the client it can delete the emails from the server however this setting can usually be changed, it will also not show the emails as read on the server so it does not ‘sync’ your mailbox fully.

For this reason it is quite outdated but can still be used for a single device or desktop but not multiple.

IMAP –¬†Internet Message Access Protocol

IMAP is the other method of accessing email from your desktop applications, mobile phones and tablets. Again we want to keep this basic for even the newest of internet users to understand.

IMAP is a another email protocol however it is more up to date, it allows you to connect to multiple devices with true synchronisation to the server and all of the other devices you are using.  Lets say you have your iPad, iPhone and mac mail all connected to your email account, if you read, delete or send an email from any of these devices it will synchronise to the server and all of the devices.

To keep it simple, IMAP synchronises with every device and the server – It also does not automatically delete mail when downloaded.

So which do I use?

In all honesty? Stick with IMAP, hardly anyone uses POP anymore and well it is always ideal to have a copy of your emails on the server incase you ever need to move your email hosting to another server.

It is also ideal to be able to not have to mark email read on each individual device every time which can become very annoying!

We hope this explanation has given you all of the information you need to make the best choice when managing and setting up your email account on your desktop.