When you configure email service you probably have noticed there're two options, POP3 and IMAP. In normal case, both solutions will work properly unless your email service provider got something wrong. What would be their difference? Should you choose POP3 or IMAP on your email client? Here we have compared the two options side by side and help you find the best email service provider.
Post Office Protocol (POP) is basic internet protocol for email transition. POP3 is the third and most current version that's supported by all email service providers. This protocol supports simple download-and-delete requirements for access to remote mailboxes. Means once emails downloaded to client end storage, server end copy will be deleted. POP3 protocol works on port 110. More explanation of pop3 could be found on this wiki page.
Pros of POP3
Inbox storage saving. Once you have configured your email account via POP3 from outlook or any other email client, it will start downloading all emails to local device and delete the copy on server end. Thus you don't have to worry about your inbox size allocation and any incoming message will be received. Senders won't encounter some common issues like "user inbox full, message failed".
Secure choice. Because all your messages will be downloaded to local device, your server end box will be empty. In case there's some security issue for your email server, hackers will get nothing about your sensitive data. Your busiess communication is kept in safe hand.
Cons of POP3
The only cons of pop3 service would be it's inconvenience if you have to use different computers to access your email box. Since all messages have been downloaded to local storage, you have to use the same computer to check your email box for any period message view. Once you have configured pop3 account from another device, it will download all incoming mails to that device. It's absolutely inconvenient to get all information together.
IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. It is an Application Layer Internet protocol that allows an e-mail client to access e-mail on a remote mail server. It will just copy over messages from server to local storage but not to delete the original ones. IMAP has the most current version 4 and works on port 143. More details of IMAP can be found on this wiki page.
Pros of IMAP
Easy access. You can configure imap account anywhere as long as you have internet access. It will download all messages to your local device no matter if you have downloaded before. Thus you can always read the email history and check how things going.Especially when you have to read some critical business mails from different locations, imap is the perfect solution.
Synchronization. Unlike pop3 account, imap will synchronize all your email folders but not just inbox. Just in case you have an important business mail got into junk folder you won't find it hard to track down.
Cons of IMAP
As we learnt from above, imap will not delete messages on email server. If you have large size emails and you don't clear often from server end, once the inbox size limit exceeded, you won't get any new incoming mails and senders will get bounced notice. It's highly suggested backup your online messages often and clear out the inbox to ensure all incoming mails can be received. Also, since imap protocol will synchronize all folders to local drive, it might take long time to download the data depends your internet connection speed. It might not be good choice if you have bad internet access.
POP3 vs IMAP, which is better?
Based above side by side comparison, we know it really depends your actual needs for email service. When you don't have to check emails from different devices, pop3 is good enough and it will ensure you have sufficient inbox storage to accept new incoming messages. But if you do business trip often with frequent email communication, imap will be perfect choice since it will leave a copy on server end. But you just need to remember to check server end box size and make sure it's not full.
What if I don't use either option? Well, we highly recommend webmail option in case you don't use any email client. Webmail is the origional and most powerful email interface where you have full access to all mail functions. Smartermail is the best choice if you're in need of high performance and reliable webmail solution.