Skip to content

What’s the difference between POP and IMAP?

  • by
  • 3 min read

Any conversation you have, be it formal or informal, email is the safest way to go due to the security protocols it uses. Clients use a multitude of protocols to gain access to emails. When configuring your email address on any device, you have to choose a protocol that would suit your needs. To make the correct choice, one should be familiar with the various protocols available for email clients.

In this article, we will be talking about two such protocols, POP and IMAP to help you select the right protocol to use on your device.

POP vs IMAP: Key differences

POP (Postmaster Protocol) is used to download emails from the server to your device. Keep in mind that POP only downloads the items in the inbox and is not responsible for updating other details such as sent mails. Due to this, any changes made in folders other than the mailbox will not reflect on your device.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is a whole different ballgame. It does not download content from the email server but takes cached copies of the data on the client, which means that you need an active internet connection to access emails when using IMAP. This is not the case for POP as the emails are downloaded on your device.What's the difference between POP and IMAP? | Candid.Technology When data is accessed using POP, the email on the server is deleted. The information is only stored on your device, and you have no way to recover it if your device gets damaged. In the case of IMAP, data is never deleted from the server and can be retrieved at any point.

If you are using multiple devices, using POP can pose another problem as it deletes messages on the server on retrieval. So, other devices with your email will not show that message as they can’t find it on the server. This data deletion feature can be god-sent if you have a limited server space.

A typical email user accesses their account from several devices and wants to see the same data everywhere. This is only possible in the case of IMAP as it synchronises data amongst all devices that connect to the email server.

Both protocols have their advantages and disadvantages. If you are going to access data from a single device and have internet issues, POP is the protocol you should choose. On the contrary, if you have multiple devices and want to see the same messages everywhere in sync, you should use IMAP.

Also read: Top 11 fake email generators

Nischay Khanna

Nischay Khanna

A tech enthusiast, driven by curiosity. A bibliophile who loves to travel. An Engineering graduate who loves to code and write about new technologies. Can't sustain without coffee. You can contact Nischay via email: