What is IMAP / POP and which should I use?


What is IMAP / POP and which should I use?

Quick Answer:

If you want your emails to remain synchronised across multiple devices then we recommend using IMAP, so if you delete an email on one device it deletes it from all; if you read an email on one device it is marked as read on all, etc., use IMAP.

If you are concerned about Disk Space Usage and want to delete your emails from the server (whilst retaining a copy on your device) use POP.

For more information about these two options, read on!


IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is similar to POP (Post Office Protocol) in that it is a system used in email communication.

IMAP is particularly useful for mailboxes which are intended to be accessed by more than one person or by multiple devices (for example, you may want to have your emails on your Work PC, your home PC, your Smart Phone and your Tablet all at once). The reason for this is that it stores the messages on the server until you explicitly delete them. This allows different people on different computers using different email clients to both download copies of the same message. If you delete a message on a device which is using IMAP, it will delete that email from the server, which means when your other devices synchronise (sync) with the server, they will remove that email from their inbox too.

The way that this is different to a POP set up is that when using POP, once the email is downloaded, it is typically immediately (or after 7-30 days) deleted from the server.

POP is a good choice if you are concerned about Disk Space Usage as you can set up your emails to be automatically deleted from the server after a set period of time. Depending on your program, you may be able to change it to a set number of days you choose or you will be limited to a number of options (typically 1 day, 1 week or 1 month).

One thing to bear in mind with POP is that if you have one device that connects to your email account via POP and it is set up to delete emails from the server after a set period of time, then if that device breaks, you will have lost all the emails except for emails that are still on the server (if not set to delete immediately after downloading the emails from the server). If you take regular backups of your device(s) more frequently than your device automatically removes emails from the server, then you can restore your device from a backup and download any missing emails from the server.

Note that using a POP setup, no Sent items are stored on the server, as a result, if your device breaks, any emails sent that were not restored from the backup will be lost and will not be able to be recovered.

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