When devices are being connected to mail servers, a common query is:
What is the difference between IMAP and POP?
These are two popular protocols for email management. It isn’t always something you need to worry about, but if you come across it, here are definitions, similarities and differences between these protocols.
Definitions: IMAP & POP
IMAP: Internet Message Access Protocol
POP: Post Office Protocol
Mail Server: Where your emails are downloaded from
Mail Client: Software used to send and receive emails (e.g. Outlook, Mac Mail)
What ARE IMAP and POP
IMAP and POP are protocols that enable email access. Email is stored on a server and when you look at an email on your computer or device, the configuration of these protocols determines how your email will operate.
Let’s say you have a business where you use an iphone to access email.
When you use POP to access your email, the email is downloaded onto the device that you use (e.g. your phone) and deleted from the server. Any actions you have with the email are limited to the device you downloaded it to – they are not communicated back the mail server. This means that email across your devices will not be synchronised.
With IMAP, when you download an email to your device, it remains on the mail server. In this case, the server is synchronised with associated devices, so actions you take on any device will be reflected on the server as well as other devices.