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POP Vs IMAP : The support desk’s say on mail client setup

POP and IMAP are two protocols that mail programs use to access mail stored on remote computers. The first thing you have to do is to understand what is POP and IMAP and also the difference between the two. These protocols are supported by most existing mail servers.


POP ( Post Office Protocol )


POP downloads all your emails from the mail server in a one-time pop. Once you have checked your messages via POP, those messages no longer live on the server. There are chances for messages in the server get deleted after it is downloaded from the server. Since POP3 creates local copies of emails and deletes the originals from the server, the emails are tied to that specific machine, and cannot be accessed via any webmail or any separate client on other computers. We can say that POP uses a one way ticketing system.

You can opt to “leave a copy of the messages on the server” to be downloaded again later if necessary, but this option has complications. When you leave copies of the messages on the server, then access your e-mail using WebMail or another IMAP e-mail client, the POP client may create duplicate messages next time it accesses the inbox; you will see each of the messages more than once, and you will have to clean out the unwanted ones. Also there is no two-way synchronization between your device and your mail server.


POP would be a good choice for someone with limited Internet connectivity or a small allotment for e-mail storage, and who is also comfortable with checking their e-mail from only computer. If this describes you, then you can take advantage of the fact that POP will download all of your e-mail in one shot and then delete it from the server, freeing up storage space and network resources. With POP you have your messages with you and can view them even if you are offline. POP allows you to keep a large backlog of email messages only limited by the size of your computer.


Some disadvantages of POP are :


New messages are downloaded in their entirety, you have to wait for the message to download.

Since all messages as well as their attachments will be downloaded into desktop PC during the ‘check new email’ process.Local copies of messages are vulnerable to data loss or security threats.

Mailboxes can only be created on desktop PC. There is only one mailbox (INBOX) exists on the server.

Filters can transfer incoming/outgoing messages only to local mailboxes.

Outgoing email is stored only locally on the desktop PC.

Messages are deleted on the desktop PC. Comparatively, it is inconvenient to clean up your mailbox on the server.

Messages may be reloaded onto desktop PC several times due to the corruption of system files.


IMAP ( Internet Message Access Protocol )


IMAP is true two-way email management. Any change you make in any IMAP client will synchronize with the server. IMAP allows users to log into many different email clients or webmail interfaces and view the same emails, because the emails are kept on remote email servers until the user deletes them. Instead of moving messages from the server to your computer, IMAP synchronizes your computer with the e-mail server.


IMAP is a good choice for people who need access to their e-mail from many locations. If you delete one mail or mark as read, those changes will effect in the server. Any messages or folders you read, move or delete will be updated across all devices. Regardless which client you use, you will see the same inbox with the same settings.


IMAP stores emails on a remote mail server. You’ll have a limited mailbox size depending on the settings provided by the email service. If you have huge number of emails you want to keep, you could run into problems sending and receiving mail when your mailbox is full.


It’s also good if you have a slow connection, because it only downloads the email headers until you choose to read the whole message.


Some disadvantages of IMAP are :


Most providers give out pop3 for free, so IMAP is costly. For frequent checking of low volume mail, pop3 is more effective.

IMAP4 is a very complex protocol.

Mail is not usually available if you are offline.

Some email programs have difficulty supporting IMAP, though browser-based solutions are often available. IMAP can be complex to maintain, and thus some hosts do not support the protocol.

It also uses the host’s hard drive space, and most enforce storage quotas for their users.

Since all of your mail is kept on the server, it might be more visible if some potential intruder gets into the mailserver than mail moved to your local machine with POP.


Now its your choice to select which one you need to go with,



The following link will help you in setting up POP and IMAP in Microsoft outlook
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The above is a very rough outline of POP vs IMAP, if you have any questions, we would be happy to talk to you! 🙂


Blog written and edited by :

Nimi K M works as a Junior Software Engineer in Bobcares. She joined Bobcares in April 2012. She loves reading books and listening music in her free time.




Bobcares is a server management company that helps businesses deliver uninterrupted and secure online services. Our engineers manage close to 51,500 servers that include virtualized servers, cloud infrastructure, physical server clusters, and more.