POP and IMAP: What's the difference?

One of the many questions our support team receive each week is about the difference between POP and IMAP and which they think is the better option. The two different types of mail protocols both have advantages and disadvantages. It just depends which email is suited more to you and your business.

Deciding which works better for your business can sometimes be an overwhelming choice to make if you’re not a technical expert. The points listed below should help you choose the right mail server for you and explain the main differences between the two.


POP stands for post office protocol and is just the name for a type of email protocol. The email is stored on an email server and when your email program checks in; it downloads messages and then deletes them off the server. This type of email is the one that comes with the iPhone.


•POP emails can be read whilst offline (only if they’ve been downloaded whilst connected to the internet). This can be beneficial if you are someone who is on the move and doesn’t always have a consistent internet connection.
•An option to leave a copy of the mail on a remote server
•An internet connection is only needed to send and receive emails
•Can consolidate multiple email accounts and servers into one inbox
Some of the advantages that POP offers are that once messages are downloaded they will load very quickly. It is widely supported by ISP’s and email providers and is supported by the majority of email programs. POP accounts only delete emails on one device and not on multiple devices which can frustrate some people.


IMAP stands for internet message access protocol. The email is stored on a server and your device or computer just downloads as needed but still keeps the main copy on the server. This works best if you have multiple devices, phones, tablets and computers all communicating with one another.


•Can synchronise emails on multiple devices
•Option to store mail locally
•Mail is stored on a remote server which means it can be accessible from different locations
One of the main advantages of IMAP is that when an email is deleted, this transposes across all devices (tablets, mobiles and desktops) and deletes the email there, once the mail program syncs up. Sent messages and drafts are also stored on the server so that you can stay up to date. IMAP requires the user to be more organised.

Here’s what Dave, from our support team has to say:

“IMAP allows you to actively create folders and delete any unwanted emails off the server to create more space for new emails. It also has the option to share sent items so you can keep track of who was mailed and when, regardless of device you are accessing.”

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