Email: POP3 or IMAP
Email

Choosing between POP3 and IMAP when setting up your email addresses

When you set up on your email addresses on your chosen software you have the option of choosing between POP3 and IMAP. They both allow you to access your email address but behave differently so you need to choose the best option for you.

POP3

If you use POP3 your emails are downloaded from the mail server onto your computer. Once downloaded the email is deleted from the server (unless you set your email software to leave all the emails on the server). If you use more than one computer or device (tablet or smart phone) to access your emails you could well find that emails you have already viewed only appear on the one computer – in other words if you download it to your desktop it then won’t be available to view on your phone.

Pros Cons
  • Because the emails are deleted from the server this helps prevent your mailbox getting too full and having emails bounce back.
  • If you use multiple computers/devices it can be difficult to keep track of where you have downloaded your emails to.
  • It is more difficult to access your emails on multiple devices.

IMAP

IMAP, on the other hand, stores emails on the mail server. What it does is sync your emails between the mail server and any computers/devices you use. It also syncs any emails you have sent with the server – so you can access your sent emails on your phone if when you’ve sent them from your computer. This makes it the better option if it’s important to you to be able to have access to all your emails on all your devices. However, because all your emails are stored on the server you have to be aware of how much storage space you have and monitor it to make sure you don’t fill up your mailbox. A full mailbox means that you won’t be able to receive any new emails, they will instead bounce back to the sender.

Pros Cons
  • You can access all your emails (including sent email) on multiple devices.
  • All your emails are stored on the server so you could find you quickly use up your storage space and cause a blockage with sending/receiving emails.
  • It takes extra management to monitor your storage space.
  • It really does sync between all devices – if you delete an email from your phone it will also be deleted from your desktop computer, if you’re not aware of that you could easily lose an email you meant to keep.

Beware

Just a word of warning. Many of the current email programs, for example Outlook, try to automatically choose your email settings for you and quite often default to IMAP. When setting up your emails please be aware of the settings and make sure you choose the options which best suit you and your mailbox storage allowance.