IMAP vs POP3, which one should you choose?

This article will highlight the differences between the POP3 and IMAP protocols and which one you should use.

What is POP3 and IMAP?

These are both mailbox access protocols that are used to connect your mailbox server to mobile devices, tablets and third-party email clients, such as Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail and Mozilla Thunderbird.

Knowing which one you use is incredibly important, since they both offer a different way of accessing and managing your messages across devices and email clients.

 

What does POP3 stand for?

POP stands for Post Office Protocol, with version 3 being the most common one used these days.

With POP3 email is downloaded as you view each message on your client. As such, this protocol is typically used by those who only want to access their messages from one client within a particular device.

 

What does IMAP stand for?

IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol and is a more modern protocol than POP.

With IMAP email remains on the server, allowing you to view your messages from multiple locations.

 

What is the difference between IMAP and POP3?

The main difference between IMAP and POP3 is how and where your emails are stored. While IMAP allows you to access emails from any client on any device, you will not be able to access any previously downloaded emails from any other device or email client, or even through webmail, with POP3, meaning that you can only use that specific client within one device to view your emails.

Furthermore, IMAP will sync your emails so that you will always see the same messages. For example, if you delete an email in one client and then check your inbox on a different client and/or device, it will still be deleted. With POP, email will not be synced across your clients or devices.

 

Should I use IMAP or POP3?

When it comes to POP vs IMAP, we recommend that you always use IMAP where possible as it offers a faster, safer and more convenient way of receiving emails.

 

How can I tell whether I’m using POP or IMAP?

When you first set up your professional email account with your email client or device, you will have been asked to enter incoming server details. This will have either been ‘pop.123-reg.co.uk’ or ‘imap.123-reg.co.uk’.

As the names suggest, using ‘pop.123-reg’ will mean that you are using the POP3 protocol, whereas ‘imap.123-reg’ means you are using IMAP.

You may also be able to see these details within the Account Information section of your chosen email client:

 

Should I still be using POP3?

No. POP is an out-of-date service that is no longer supported by many email clients and services. If you continue to use POP, it may cause issues with your email service.

That’s why we recommend that you update to IMAP as soon as possible, as it was designed to enable users with multiple devices and clients to access their email across different locations, using the email directly from the server; a far easier and efficient way to serve email. Not only will this speed up your email and reduce the risk of losing important messages, but you will be able to access your email on any device from any location.

 

How do I change to IMAP?

Changing to IMAP is a very easy process and should be done as soon as possible to ensure that your email continues to work correctly. We ask that you set up your email again for your email client and mobile devices using the IMAP protocols, which means setting your incoming server address to imap.123-reg.co.uk

We have the full instructions to help you set up your email on the most popular email clients, and the most popular mobile devices.

Once you have set up using the IMAP protocol, please ensure you delete your POP email connection.

Please note: with POP3 email will be stored locally on your computer. As such, you won’t lose any emails by deleting your POP connection.