PoP vs. IMAP What’s the Difference? Which Should You Use For Your Email?

Email has become part of our lives, and if you are a working professional, you already know how important they are to keep contacts alive and do good networking and communication. All of this can easily lead you to POP vs. IMAP.

If you ever wondered, how the internet works, the answer is protocol. A protocol is defined as a set of rule to make things work. It is a set of rules. On the internet, you use email clients, and email clients use the email protocols to handle all your emails.

Two popular email protocols are POP and IMAP. If you are new to the email or the internet, you might be confused what they mean and which one to use for your day-to-day work.

Today, I will go through their core definition and what they mean, and also compare them. Before we start, it is always a good idea to know the full form of POP and IMAP.

We also reccommend reading:


POP stands for Post Office Protocol, whereas IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. You can configure your email client to work with one of the two protocols. But, which one to use? Let’s find it out in detail.

Post Office Protocol

Post Office Protocol

POP is the older sibling of the IMAP protocol. It has the following default workflow. Let’s look at how it works.

POP Workflow

  1. Connection with Server is made.
  2. All the emails are retrieved.
  3. Store all the retrieved emails locally.
  4. Delete the recovered emails on the server. (Can be modified to keep a copy on server as well).
  5. Disconnect from the server.

Advantages of POP

There are many benefits of POP. POP is a great protocol to store emails locally. Let’s discuss them below.

  1. Emails can be retrieved without connecting to the internet as they are stored locally.
  2. Saves server storage whenever possible.
  3. The internet is an optional aspect as it is only required to send or receive emails.
  4. Can be modified to leave a copy of the emails on the server as well.
  5. Can be used with multiple email accounts in one inbox.

When You Should Choose POP protocol?

POP is a straight forward email protocol. It has many advantages as discussed above and you should utilize the POP protocol in the below-mentioned scenarios:

  1. Accessing email from only one device. Many people might choose to go with this because of security reasons.
  2. The email server doesn’t have enough space for storing emails.
  3. Email access is a high priority for you, and you want to access them without the internet.

With POP discussion complete, let’s move on to IMAP.

Internet Message Access ProtocolInternet Message Access Protocol

IMAP or Internet Message Access Protocol is a modern email protocol used by many email clients and services. Before, we get started with the advantages of using IMAP, let’s check out the workflow of IMAP.

IMAP Workflow

IMAP workflow is described as below:

  1. IMAP protocol first connects to the server.
  2. It then fetches the user request content and renders it locally. The user can request anything related to the email account, i.e., new emails, summaries and much more.
  3. The user then can edit the emails and send replies. After the processing is done, the protocol process the user edits and sends them back to the server for storage purposes.
  4. The protocol disconnects the client from the server.

Advantages of IMAP

As you can see from the workflow, IMAP is beneficial in the modern workplace. Let’s see what it has stored for us.

  1. As IMAP doesn’t delete emails from the remote server, they can be accessed from different machines. Hence, IMAP is great for portability.
  2. IMAP makes sure that no emails are lost. All the emails are backed up on the server.
  3. With a lot more on the remote server, it saves local storage. Just opposite of what POP is capable of.
  4. IMAP also offers the option to store emails locally. This can help for offline access.
  5. Accessing content is faster as it downloads header files first and then the requested content.

When Should You Choose IMAP protocol?

As mentioned earlier, IMAP is great for the modern workplace, such as Office, schools or big organizations. There are many occasions where IMAP offers better benefits than POP. Let’s discuss them below.

  1. IMAP is an excellent choice when anyone want to access their email from different places or devices.
  2. Helps cure the problem of local storage.
  3. IMAP is great for getting a quick overview of the emails as it only downloads the headers.
  4. Backing up is done instantly so that you don’t have to worry about losing emails.
  5. You know you will always have an internet connection to access your emails.

The Verdict

sending email

Choosing between IMAP and POP is not at all tricky. If you are looking for offline access, POP is the way to go. IMAP, on the other hand, offers better portability and backup capabilities for your emails.

If you would ask me, I would always choose IMAP over POP as it offers almost everything that POP offers, plus backup capabilities and portability.

POP is the least used protocol nowadays and should be avoided if not needed desperately.

What’s you say? Which protocol did you choose? Let us know in the comment section below.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at 85ideas is a team of WordPress experts led by Brian Harris. Here to share amazing tuts, guides and collections.

No Comments

Post A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.