Email access methods: POP3 vs IMAP

Every time we are contacted about a problem with a mailbox, one of the first things we consult with our clients is their method of accessing said boxes, as well as the mail client they use, be it Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird or Mac OS X mail.

As always, there are advantages and disadvantages regarding the method of access, but if we stop to evaluate the characteristics of each mail client, we can make an informed decision.

Basically, if you access your mailbox from more than one location (for example, from your cell phone and from your PC), then using IMAP is ideal. It is the way in which your box will always be displayed identically, regardless of where you review it from. This means that all your emails will remain valid (unless you decide to delete them), while with the POP method, emails are usually downloaded and deleted. Then, when checking from another device, emails downloaded with POP will not be seen. And this is a permanent query in Duplika.

IMAP: Internet Message Access Protocol

The use of this method has grown rapidly in recent years and there are several reasons:

Advantages of IMAP

  • All emails will always be hosted on the server.
  • The messages will appear in exactly the same way in any mail client, so it is not necessary to move the emails.
  • We can change the mail client, or access via webmail, and we will see exactly the same thing.
  • If you have a problem with your computer and lose your information (we hope not!), the emails will still be intact, as they will remain on the server. This is of radical importance for your workflow.
  • IMAP makes it easy to access from any mobile phone, since messages are not deleted from the server (unless you delete them manually).
  • It becomes particularly useful when more than one person logs in and checks the same mailbox.

Disadvantages of IMAP

  • Your emails are exclusively available on the server; therefore, you will not be able to interact with them if you do not have an internet connection (some mail clients have configurations to avoid this inconvenience).
  • Since all the messages are hosted on the server, the access speed will depend on your Internet connection. This could cause some slowness in handling your emails compared to a POP3 client.

Most webmail interfaces use IMAP to display the contents of mailboxes..

POP3: Post Office Protocol

POP3 is the third version of the protocol post office and is generally used by Internet service providers dial up because POP3 tends to work better on connections with low transfer rates. Instead of letting the server handle the email, POP3 downloads it to your computer for it to handle.

Advantages of POP3

  • If you manage multiple emails from the same client, you can check all emails from one place.
  • Messages are stored locally on your hard drive, so you'll always be able to access emails, regardless of whether you're connected to the Internet or not.
  • Opening attachments generally works faster, since they are downloaded in parallel with the message content.
  • Because the messages are downloaded to your PC, disk space is only limited by the size of your hard drive instead of the web space your plan has.

Disadvantages of POP3

  • If you receive files or content that can infect your PC, it is more likely that you will be affected because a virus will have access to your operating system.
  • If due to a problem on your computer you lose all the information, unless you have made backup copies of your emails, you will also lose them. Via IMAP, on the other hand, all your messages will be backed up in Duplika with daily, weekly and monthly backups.
  • If you have configured our email client to leave a copy on the server, as your account grows in size, it will take longer to check new emails since it will be necessary to review and filter which emails were downloaded and which were not.

POP3 is still the most widely used access protocol thanks to its simplicity of configuration. However, its use falls year by year.

Defining our access method

Deciding which protocol we will use will depend exclusively on our needs and the contexts in which we will use our email account.

Cases where it is convenient to use IMAP

  • If we travel frequently, and we need a more flexible access method.
  • If we want to see our emails from our computer and also from our cell phone.
  • If we check our boxes from our home, work and any other place.

Cases where it is convenient to use POP3

  • We check a single mailbox for a specific purpose.
  • We are concerned about the privacy of our data, so we prefer not to host our emails on the server.
  • We use a telephone connection (dial up).

If you have a question or doubt, as always, we encourage you to contact us through our customer desk.

For more details, you can visit some Wikipedia articles:



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