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Email Setup – POP vs. IMAP

Email Clients vs. Webmail

Both webmail and email clients (AKA programs) are applications for sending and receiving email. Both use similar methods for doing this. Webmail is accessed via a web browser, while email clients like Outlook or Apple Mail are programs that are installed on your local machine (computer) which interact with remote email servers to download and send email. Either a webmail interface or an email client can access the mail on a server by either the POP3 or IMAP protocols.

POP3 (Post Office Protocol)

POP (Post Office Protocol) is a way of accessing email that downloads copies of the emails for offline reading, then physically removes those mails from the remote mail server. Since POP3 creates local copies of emails and deletes the originals from the server, the emails are tied to the specific machine that has downloaded the mail. Once it has been “POPped”, the mail can no longer be accessed via any webmail or any other mail client on other computers.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol)

The essential feature of IMAP is that it allows users to log in via many different email clients or webmail interfaces and view the same emails, because the emails are kept on the remote mail servers “in the cloud” until the user deletes them. This is useful when you want to access your mail in different ways throughout the day, e.g. on web interfaces, email clients, and on mobile phones.

IMAP does have some challenges, though: because IMAP stores emails on a remote mail server, you’ll have a limited mailbox size depending on the settings provided for your email account. If you have a huge number of emails you want to keep, you could run into problems sending and receiving if your mailbox becomes full. Some users get around this issue by saving their mail locally (on their desktop computer) using an email client, and then deleting them from the remote server.

POP3 or IMAP – Which Should I Use?

Depending on how you typically interact with email, you can determine which mail method will suit you best.

Use IMAP If:

  • you check your email from several devices, phones, or computers
  • you use mostly webmail and want your phone or tablet to sync with your webmail

Use POP 3 If:

  • you use one email client on one dedicated computer
  • you want to save your email in perpetuity and want to keep from running out of space on the remote email server

Google Apps for Business Email

Another option for managing your mail is Google Apps for Business Email. This service leverages the infrastructure behind Gmail, including the best spam filtering available and massive storage limits, to provide you with enterprise-quality mail services using your own domain. Gmail for business works on any computer or mobile device with a data connection, and offline support lets you keep working even when you’re disconnected.

More Information

For more information on setting up your mail, please contact us.