Difference between POP3 and IMAP
What is IMAP and POP?
These two are the most common incoming email protocols. These protocols are used to connect your mail box server to an email client. Here an email client refers to for an example (microsoft outlook or mozila thunderbird).
So basically it allows you to send and receive the emails from mail client just we mentioned from Outlook or Thunderbird to your desktop/laptop. It also allows you to access your Emails through Online web services like Gmail, Microsoft Mail or on the mobile devices like your smart phones or tablets.
Whats the difference?
What is POP?
So POP stands for Post office Protocol and the latest version is POP3 and it is supported by all email client and servers. POP3 download mails on your local device(Computer or Phone or Tablets) using the client and deletss them from the email server.
By using POP an internet connected email client, accesses the mail server, then it download all your mails to local device(Computer or Phone or Tablets) and then it marks the messages for deletion on Email Server.
So it means that if you have received emails using POP, they can only be accessible on specific email client on a specific device that you downloaded to. Which means that they can not be accessible through the other clients on devices other than that you downloaded to.
However some email clients allow you to keep the copy of emails on server. and once you delete them from your client it may not get synced with the email server.
What is IMAP?
IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. Unlike POP3 which downloads and auto deletes the emails from email server, IMAP allows us to view emails from any internet connected Email Clients or web email services from any device at multiple locations. This feature has made it popular
So basically if you are using IMAP to access your mails, your email client receives a copy of emails and the original stays on the email server, rather than deleting them from server. This feature makes is possible for us to access our mails from any client on any devices unless you deletes them from one client.
Synchronization is done with all the devices and email server. If you delete an email from one of the client on one of the devices, it gets deleted from the server and other devices too.
Main Differences are as below.
1) If you want to receive your e-mail messages only on one single computer or device, then POP3 is usefull, while using IMAP you can access your mails on multiple devices simultaneously at any time.
2) POP is a one way communication, because it deletes the messages once you download them to your local device and then disconnects the device from Mail Server, While IMAP is a two way communication, where retrives your mails and caches it on local device and keep the original content on server. Synchronication is done both the way.
3) Both protocols operate on different ports.
4) POP3 does not require an internet connection if you want to access the downloaded e-mails unless you want to retrieve new e-mails. While IMAP which stores your emails in cache only requires internet connection all the time.