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Email protocols: IMAP versus POP3

Email protocols: IMAP versus POP3

Definitions

IMAP

IMAP supports both online and offline account access, provides advanced sync features, and lets you view and manage messages without removing them from the server. Any changes you make are saved and reflected from all locations such as your laptop and mobile phone. However, by default, iMail and Android mail do not synchronize the contents of the device's sent folder with the email box on your server.

POP3

POP3 allows you to read email messages without a constant Internet connection, so you can actually read and manage existing messages while offline. Also, POP3 downloads the messages from your server to your local computer or phone. While you can save a copy of the messages on your server, changes made from the local device are not saved on the server.

Comparison chart

FEATURE IMAPPOP3
Message storage, default method Remote on the server Local your PC
Folder support Yes Local only; will not sync between/among email clients.
SpamAssassin compatibility Yes No
Synchronization intelligence Great Poor

Which one should I choose?

The protocol that should be used depends on your needs and preferences; however, if you plan on using multiple email clients and devices to access your email account, it is strongly advised that you use the IMAP protocol. IMAP keeps mail boxes synchronized and allows proper use of hybrid Webmail, email client and device setups. It is also generally faster than POP3, which can be advantageous when reading many messages per day.

 

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