POP3 vs IMAP, which one should you choose?

This Video applies to 123-mail.

POP3 and IMAP are protocols which are used to connect your mailbox account to email clients, such as Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Outlook.com, 123-mail, or smartphones and tablets.

Watch the following support video from 123-reg and find out how the two protocols work with your emails and which one is better to use when you set up your mailbox account.

You can also read the information from the video script and get a better understanding of the way the two protocols work and which one is better depending on the device that you’re using the most.

Tip: IMAP allows you to check your email from multiple devices and always see the same messages, as these stay on the server.

Title: POP3 vs. IMAP | Which one should you use?


Hi there, in this video we will demonstrate the differences between POP3 and IMAP email protocols and help you decide which one to use.

So how do they work?:

To start, let’s learn exactly what POP3 and IMAP are.

General Definition:

POP3 and IMAP are protocols used to connect your mailbox server to an email client.

These clients include Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird, a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet or an online webmail interface such as Gmail, Outlook.com or 123-mail.

POP3 definition and explanation:

POP3 stands for Post Office Protocol and has been around for many years.

POP3 downloads your mail as you view it on your email client. It’s great for users who only want to access their mail from one client.

However, some email clients do allow the option to keep a copy of emails on the server.

Please note that this is an advance feature of POP3 and does not mean that your emails are synced.

If you delete an email in one client it may not be deleted in an alternative client. You may have to do this manually.

IMAP definition and explanation:

So what is IMAP then?

Well IMAP stands for Internet message access protocol.

IMAP simply connects to the mailbox and allows you to view your email rather than downloading it.

It is a more modern email protocol and is designed to support our lifestyles by allowing you to easily view email from multiple locations. Unlike POP3, your emails will be synced, so if you delete an email in one client and then check it on an alternate client it will also be deleted.


So for example…

You go to bed and overnight a stack of emails start to build up on your mail server.

When you wake up and access your mail from your phone…

POP3 directly downloads the emails to your phone for you to view, which completely removes them from the mail server.

Whereas using IMAP would mean you receive a copy of the emails while the original emails stay on your mail server.

Later on in the day, you want to check your emails on your computer.

Using POP3 to connect to your mail server means that you can only download new emails which have been received since you last checked your phone in the morning. If you have configured your mail server with IMAP then…

A copy of your recent emails as well as any previous emails will be available to view on your computer while the original emails still stay on the mail server.

Now we know the basics of POP3 and IMAP let’s have a look at the differences to help you decide which one to use.


Which protocol you use is dependent on your lifestyle and how you want to access your emails.

IMAP is best if you want to access your emails from multiple locations, clients and devices, as it doesn’t require downloading your email content.

Because of this, if anything were to happen to your computer or mobile device you would be able to easily connect to your emails.

POP3 is a simple choice which allows you to download all of your mail to one location managed by you.

However if your device breaks down you will not be provided with back-up unless you have already manually backed-up your emails or were given the option to leave a copy of the emails on the server.


We therefore recommend using IMAP as it gives you the ability to manage your email from a client or device whilst providing peace of mind that should anything go wrong with your device you can still access your emails.


Answer options

Your feedback was successfully added.

Answer tracking


Watch the content of this article for changes.