IMAP or POP Email?

Joseph ComoMisc.

IMAP or POP email, what’s the difference?

IMAP and POP3 represent two different ways of sending and receiving email.  You may have seen both these options when trying to set up your email on your computer or phone. 

Lately, I have been receiving many calls from our clients about which one they should select when setting up their mobile device for email.

IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol, which is just fancy lingo to describe the manner in which email is sent and received.  The top competitor to IMAP is POP3.  POP3 stands for Post Office Protocol and the “3” indicates a third revision of the original.

POP3 is an older design than IMAP.  It was made to work before there was an “always-on” internet connection.  POP3 checks messages manually or at intervals determined by the email software being used.  When you “POP” your e-mail into your Outlook or other email software, the default action is to delete it from the host mail server.  There are some email programs that allow you to leave a copy of messages on the server, but this can lead to an accumulation of too much email on the server or, at the very least, the extra step of deleting old email manually from the remote location.

IMAP is a newer, more flexible way of handling email compared to POP3.  It was designed for the always-on connection.  By default, IMAP retains messages on the server and is more compatible with a mobile device.

Comstar mail servers provide both POP3 and IMAP.  The way you set up your email configuration varies depending on the device and which protocol you prefer to use.  It helps if you’ve made a decision about protocol before you call for assistance.