What are the differences between POP and IMAP?

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While both Post Office Protocol (POP) and Internet Message Access Protocol(IMAP) can be used to receive email, there are some differences between the 2 protocols.

The basic rundown is

  • POP is more suited for setting up email on a single device
  • IMAP is more suited to setting up email on multiple devices, with other benefits

POP stores email on the local device. As the email is saved as a copy, deleting an email will not update the server. Also by default POP will remove the mail from the server while downloading this, causing issues with using email on multiple devices and increasing the risk of losing emails in the event of a PC crash.

IMAP stores email on the mail server. As the email is synchronised with the server any changes on the mail client will update the server, including folders, moving and deleting email. Because of this it is much easier to use IMAP with multiple devices. There is less risk of losing emails in the event of a PC crash as the emails are stored on the mail server and not the local device.

If you are not sure which to use, we would recommend using IMAP, as you can easily add other devices in the future. Some mail clients even allow you to store IMAP mail locally.

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