Difference Between POP and IMAP? Which one should you use for Email?

by Sachin

IMAP and POP are the protocols or technologies through which you can download messages from mail servers on your computer and access them with the help of mail clients such as Microsoft Outlook, Mail Bird, Fox Mail etc.

When we set up our email account in a mail client, we must choose the type of protocol. Currently, the two protocols that allow us to choose the managers are IMAP and POP3.

The main difference between these two protocols is that IMAP stores messages on the mail server while POP3 downloads and stores them locally.

Difference between POP and IMAP


This protocol works directly on the mail server. To check the email, connect to the server and show the content there. When we send an email it is stored on the server and it is accessible from any other device that checks the mail.

Current managers have options so that emails are also stored locally using this protocol.

* Access: since emails are stored on the email server, you can access them from numerous computers and mobile devices.

* Storage: if you reach the limit of online storage, you have to delete some emails periodically to avoid exceeding your storage capacity.

* Backup: every day a backup is made automatically. If you accidentally delete an email, your mail administrator can retrieve it, even 14 days later.

* Internet connection: if you do not have an Internet connection, you cannot access your email messages.


A mail client configured as POP3 connects to the server and downloads the emails to the local device. Once done, it removes messages downloaded from the server, being only available locally. With this protocol, the messages sent are only available locally.

The current managers allow the option to save a copy of the messages downloaded to the server, or mark that only those of a certain age are deleted.

* Access: since your emails have been saved on your computer, if you want to access them, you must do it from your PC.

* Storage: you do not have to worry about online storage. Your messages are stored on your computer, so you can download as many messages as your computer can store.

* Backup: it is advisable to install an effective backup system on your computer in case you need to recover lost or deleted emails.

* Internet connection: you need an internet connection to download the emails, but later you will be able to see your messages offline (that is, without internet connection).

How to Activate POP/IMAP?

Different devices can be configured to connect to the server using different protocols, such as connecting the office computer as POP3 and other IMAP devices. In Gmail, you can activate both the protocols: POP and IMAP

  • Go to Setting
  • Select Forwarding and POP/IMAP
  • Now Enable/Disable POP/IMAP

In Hotmail only POP is present and it does not support IMAP. Here is the screenshot for activating POP/IMAP in Gmail

activating POP/IMAP in Gmail

Which is better IMAP or POP?

Positions to choose, I recommend IMAP. Because the changes you make using IMAP are synchronized with the server and you do not have to worry when checking your email address from another PC. However, if you do not usually check the mail on another PC, then you can use POP.

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