Should I use POP or IMAP?


Should I use POP or IMAP?

Last updated September 13th, 2010

POP and IMAP are two different protocols used to retreive emails from a remote server. Most email software today supports both protocols - so which one you use depends on which one is most suited to your usage requirements.

What is POP?

POP stands for "Post Office Protocol" and can be regarded as an older protocal optimised for users downloading email messages from the server onto a local device. Emails are typically removed from the server when downloaded, thus requiring the user to access and read their emails from the same device.

What is IMAP?

IMAP stands for "Internet Message Access Protocol". IMAP offers two-way communication between the mail server and your device-bound email client. So actions you perform in your desktop email software, such as creating folders and moving emails, will automatically happen on the server as well. Or if you delete an email on the server the email will be deleted from your desktop email client as well.

IMAP also provides a better method to access your mail from multiple devices. If you check your email at work, on your mobile phone, and again at home, IMAP ensures that new mail is accessible from any device at any given time. You can also access your IMAP email from anywhere with just a browser using SiteHost Webmail.

Finally, IMAP offers a more stable experience overall. Whereas POP is prone to losing messages or downloading the same messages multiple times, IMAP avoids this through two-way syncing capabilities between your mail clients and the server.

SiteHost Recommendation

We recommend that you use IMAP if:

  1. You are not sure which protocol to use
  2. You want to access your mail from multiple devices or locations
  3. You do not want to be responsible for backing up your emails
  4. You ever want to use SiteHost Webmail to read emails
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