Difference between POP3 and IMAP

Difference between POP3 and IMAP

Below is an explanation of the general difference between the IMAP and POP3 email protocols.


POP3 and IMAP are both email protocols that work with most modern email clients. Their main difference is how they manage and store emails.


With a POP3 email account you only have one folder: the Inbox folder. When you open your mailbox, new mail is moved from the host server and saved on your computer. If you want to read old email messages, you have to go to the computer where you last opened them. (Some email clients allow you to save emails on the server so that you can access them from several locations. More on this below.)

With this type of account you do not have to stay logged on to the Internet. You can log on when you want to receive and send new messages. Once new messages have been downloaded to your computer you can log off to read them. POP3 accounts are good when you connect with a modem to DAS and are charged for the connection, or have an older computer.

IMAP account

Using this protocol, all your email stays on the server in multiple folders, some of which you have created. This enables you to connect to any computer and see all your email and email folders. In general, IMAP is great if you have a dedicated connection to the Internet or you check your email from various locations.

Leave Mail on Server vs. Remove Mail from Server

If you use the POP3 protocol and you read your meail from multiple computers, you want to leave emails on the server so that they are available to you at all times. If you do not leave email on the server, all the mail in your Inbox will be downloaded to the computer you are currently using. If you only read your mail from one location, then there is no need to leave email on the server. You will see instructions on how to set this option when you go through the steps to set up your email program.

Why choose IMAP rather than POP3 and leaving email on the server? With POP3 only your email messages are on the server, but with IMAP your email folders are on the server too.