This article contains examples and explanations to help you decide whether POP or IMAP is right for you.
Read the following senarios and see which one fits your situation best.
1. “I use multiple computers and mobile devices to access my email. If I read or delete a message on my phone or laptop, I want these changes to be reflected on my other computers/phones.”
- This type of user should use IMAP. IMAP automatically syncs your webmail to every platform that you use to access it. Event Drafts and temporary messages are available from the server through various mechanisms.
2. “I travel regularly and have a lightweight laptop with little storage.”
- Use IMAP. Unlike, POP, IMAP does not download and store your messages on your computer or mobile device; they stay on the webmail system so that they can be accessed from anywhere using any computer with an internet connection.
3. “I want to keep my messages on my local machine rather than storing them on your servers in the US.”
- You should use POP. Once your email client has received your messages, they are deleted from the server and stored only on your computer. When setting up a POP account, we recommend that you disable the option to “Leave a copy of the messages on the server.” If this option is enabled it may cause you to receive multiple duplicate emails. If you are already using POP and experiencing problems, please see this screenshot, which illustrates the location of this option in Outlook.
- NOTE: If you use multiple computers to access the same mailbox (or use both Webmail and an email client) we recommend that you use IMAP.
4. “My spouse and I share an email account but we use separate computers to access it. To prevent sending duplicate answers to an email, I’d like to know when they’ve responsed to a question and keep track of the conversation.”
- IMAP allows you to follow a conversation even when the emails are being sent from another computer. Outgoing messages will be saved in the “Sent” folder and can be referred to from either computer.
5. “I have a poor internet connection and only check email once a week via satellite.”
- In this situation, POP is best. Unlike IMAP, which is constantly updating, POP only needs to be online briefly to collect messages to your local computer or send out messages that you’ve composed. Most of the reading and writing of emails can be done offline.
6. “I have multiple folders that I would like to access both online and offline (email client)”
- In this situation, IMAP is best. Unlike POP, IMAP can be used to synchronize multiple folders – synchronize only headers / only new messages or the full messages as appropriate. Most email clients allow for granular synchronizing settings per folder
Overall, IMAP is generally more convenient and stable than POP. You can access your email from any computer and changes, whether they be performed on your email client or directly on your webmail, are reflected immediately. It also prevents messages from being lost or downloaded multiple times, which are problems that POP can sometimes run into (see point 3 above). Other than a few specific situations like those mentioned above, PSMail recommends that you use IMAP.