IMAP vs POP3 Email

IMAP vs POP3 Email

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IMAP highly recommended, POP3 is old hat - but what's the difference?

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  in Support Articles by Paul

IMAP or POP3 - don't know which to use or what the difference is?  Well, IMAP is strongly recommended, and the difference is huge, so here's the low down in laymans terms..

Use POP3 if..

You only ever need to use your email on your desktop PC, and you have an awesome backup arrangement.  If you choose POP3 it means you'll never need to access your email on a tablet/smartphone/laptop from home or a hotel etc.  And you'll never need it when you're sat in a beach bar in Barbados.   And you're not worried about your computer blowing up, or upgrading it with a new one because your emails are frequently backed up somewhere.  I can't actually think of any advantages of POP3 when unlimited capacity IMAP accounts are available - but if you prefer it fair enough.  Did I mention backups?  That important email that just arrived 5 minutes ago, and your reply,  are they backed up already?  They would be on IMAP.

Use IMAP if..

You want access to your emails from any device, from anywhere, and you don't want to worry about your hard drives failing.  When you're sat at that Barbados beach bar and a customer calls you to say they've sent you the specs you've been waiting for and it needs sorting out today, you can whip the iPad out of your beach bag and deal with it - providing the beach bar has Wi-Fi of course.

IMAP gives you the ability to access and use your emails from any internet connection, on any device, all over the world.  It insures you, for free, against any computer catastrophies.  POP3 is a bit old-hat to say the least, and doesn't give you any of that.

Why? How Does It Work?

POP3 works by downloading all your emails off the internet, and deleting them off the internet once they're downlodaded (unless you set it to not do that - but even that won't give you IMAP functionality).  So your emails will only ever exist on the device you're using.

So, if you turn your computer off it's not downloading any new emails off the internet, which means if you then fly to Barbados you'll be able to see everything that's arrived since you switched your computer off, but nothing before that, or your sent items or anything else.  If you leave your computer switched on while you're on your jollies (maybe because you set an out-of-office auto-responder) you wont see anything at all in Barbados because your computer will be happily downloading everything and deleting them off the internet.

IMAP works by keeping absolutely everything on your mail server (on the internet). So, send an email from your computer in the office, switch it off, fly to Barbados, pull out your iPad, and there it is, along with everything else.

Which Should You Choose?

Choose IMAP.  I can't think of a single reason why anyone would use POP3 these days.

 



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