POP and IMAP are the protocols or technologies that you can use to download messages on your computer from mail servers. You can access them through mail clients such as Google Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc. In this article, we will discuss the difference between POP and IMAP in the mail.
Difference between POP and IMAP
We will discuss the difference between POP and IMAP in detail but it is important to know the basic difference between them first.
In POP (Post Office Protocol), your mail client account and mail server are not synchronized. It implies whatever changes you make to your email account in the mail client will not be assigned to the webmail inbox.
While the IMAP (Internet Messaged Accessed Protocol) constantly synchronizes with the mail server so that the changes you make in your mail client (Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird) should immediately pop-up on your webmail inbox.
In naive terms, if you are using IMAP and mark a mail as read, it becomes marked as read in your web-based inbox too (because the changes are occurring on the server). Though, this won’t be the case if you are using POP, because the mails are downloaded to your PC and the changes won’t display on the server.
- POP is a simple protocol that only supports downloading mails from your inbox to your computer.
- At a time, mail can only be accessed from a single device
- To read the mail it has to be downloaded on the local computer
- The user cannot compose mails in the mailbox of the mail server
- The user cannot create, delete or rename email on the mail server
- IMAP is much more radical and enables the user to view all the folders on the mail server
- Messages can be accessed across multiple devices
- The mail data can somewhat be read before downloading
- The user can compose the emails readily on the mail server
- The user can create, delete or rename email on the mail server.
- A message header can be seen before downloading.
How to Activate POP and IMAP?
Various mail services have different settings for handling protocols. In Gmail, you can find options to activate both the protocols: POP and IMAP (Go to settings -> Forwarding and POP/IMAP). In Hotmail, only POP is available and it doesn’t support IMAP.
POP vs IMAP: Which one is better?
IMAP is much agile if you want to access your email from multiple devices, such as a work computer and a smartphone. POP performs well if you need using only a single device, but have a great number of emails. It is also more suitable if you have a poor internet connection and want to access your emails offline. However, in most cases, IMAP meets the business requirements much better.