Email: What’s the difference between IMAP and POP?

IMAP and POP are the protocols or technologies that enable you to download email messages directly to your computer or device and then access them with the help of an email program such as Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird or Mail for Mac.

The main advantage of email programs is that the most popular ones give you more features than when you just look at your emails on the internet.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol)

The main difference between IMAP and POP is that IMAP (Internet Messaged Access Protocol) always syncs with the  mail server, so that any changes you make in your email program will also appear in your webmail Inbox. So if you're going to regularly use webmail and an email client, we'd recommend using IMAP.

1Two-way synchronized communication between the email server and the email client, which allows several devices to work on the same account seeing the changes made by everyone.Mails will not work without an active internet connection.
2"Sent Email" will be synchronized to server via email client. e.g. Microsoft Outlook.In case email usage is more, you would need a larger mailbox storage in your web hosting which might cost more.
3Emails are on the server all the time, so accessing them can be done from any place by having a device with internet access.Accessing mails little slower as compared to POP3, as all folders get synchronized everytime there is a Send / Receive.
4In case of a computer crash or accidental deletion of data, since emails are on the mail server, it is possible to get the emails back.For older and slower computers, syncing of emails will take a long time if you have large number of emails in your server.
5As the emails are stored on mail server, it utilizes minimal local storage.Syncing of large number of emails might also causes email client e.g. Microsoft Outlook to hang.
6It allows keyboard based email search.

POP (Post Office Protocol)

With POP (Post Office Protocol), your email client account and mail server are not synced. This means that whatever changes you make to your email account in your email program will not be transferred to your webmail Inbox.

So, if you are using IMAP and mark a mail as "read", it also gets marked as read in your webmail Inbox. This won't happen with POP, because in this case, emails are downloaded to your computer or device and any changes you make on your device won't be reflected on the mail server.

If you're switching from using POP to IMAP then you need to be aware that any local folder structure you might have set up within POP will be lost when you make the change. If you want to keep these folders, we recommend you log into your webmail and re-create them before transferring.

1Able to read emails on your local computer/device even with no internet connection.
If the device where the mails have been downloaded or saved, crashes or gets stolen, the emails are lost.
2It is not necessary to have a big storage space on the mail server, since when downloading the mail, it is deleted.Depending on the message, it can consume resources of the system.
3"Sent Email" will NOT be synchronized to server via email client. e.g. Microsoft Outlook.