IMAP or POP3 ” What Should I Take?

April 29, 2021 Off By Dominik Sapinski

How should I receive my mails today? Should I user POP3 or better IMAP? What are my options and what are the differences and benefits? When should you use POP3 and when IMAP?

The POP3 setup. After you’ve entered your account credentials like your login name and password you need to make your first decision. Do you want to leave all received messages on the server or not. When you leave the message on the server, your account may run out of space after some time. When you delete emails after receipt from the server you can’t get it on a different computer again. So, when you’re working on only one single computer, it’s better to delete mails from server immediately after you’ve downloaded them. With POP3 every received mail is stored on your local hard disk. Therefore it’s no problem to read it when you have no internet connection.

When you have several computers or you have to ensure that multiple users should get an email, IMAP is the better way. With IMAP all messages are stored and managed directly ON the server. Email readers only receive a list of your email headers from the server saving time and bandwidth on emails you don’t want to read for whatever reason. By default emails aren’t stored on your local hard drive. When you want to read them offline, you need to set this in your email reader’s settings. An additional benefit of IMAP is that your email folder structure is the same on every computer. For instance, when you’ve set up a folder called family for family emails, and business for all emails of your business contacts, these directories will always be there in your email reader ” regardless on which computer you access your email account.

What means this all for you? Use POP3 when you have only a single computer where you receive your emails and you’re the only one who has to read the mail. Activate that emails should be deleted from the mail server when you have received them and you can forget about your mail account running out of space.

Use IMAP when you have more than one computer or others should get the email, too. But you have to care about the mail server’s space to not run full. You need to delete or backup mails from time to time. When you’re often on the road and don’t have internet access, make sure you store an additional copy of your mails on your hard disk.

Dominik writes for soft-evolution, a software vendor, specialized on team scheduling software. soft-evolution is developer of an Outlook Alternative which addresses the needs of small and mid-sized companies.

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