Computers and Technology

Difference Between Imap And Pop3

As a user, you can’t create, delete or rename e-mails on the mail server, but this is possible with IMAP. With POP3, you don’t have to organize emails in a mailbox on the server, while IMAP allows you to organize them. After adding a Thunderbird email account, you can decide whether IMAP is a remote folder or POP3 to keep the email on your computer. In this article we will talk about main aspects about difference between Imap and Pop3.

IMAP and POP3 are protocols

IMAP and POP3 are protocols for accessing e-mails stored on a mail server. You can configure your email software to access e-mails from your IONOS e-mail account via IMAP or POP3. Pop3 Keep Mail on Your Computer (Pop3) Keep emails on your computer using various methods (so-called protocols) to access your email.   

The email remains on the mail server, so you can set up an account on multiple computers or devices to access your email without having to access it via webmail.   


Similar to the IMAP protocol, the POP3 protocol receives mail from a remote server. Unlike IMAP, messages do not stay on a local device such as a computer, but on the server. Users cannot change the content of e-mails on a POP3 server.  

IMAP is a two-way protocol

IMAP is a two-way protocol that copyes your email from the remote server to Thunderbird and preserves the original copy of the email from the server. POP3 is a one-way protocol that downloads your emails from a remote server and Thunderbird automatically deletes them in Thunderbird after 7 days. 

IMAP keeps messages on the server and synchronizes them across multiple devices while POP3 downloads and deletes the email server from a single computer. This means that e-mails cannot be synchronised across different devices, which means that when we set up our e-mails via our mobile phone with POP3, they are only downloaded to the phone and cannot be accessed from other devices.

Also, POP3 only downloads the server from one computer, so if a device is removed from the server, the email will still be downloaded to your computer

The main difference

The main difference is that POP returns the mail from the server to a permanent local storage while IMAP leaves the server with a cache of the stored mail. Using IMAP means that you receive a copy of the email, but the original email remains on the server. While POP3 downloads the e-mail message over a connection, IMAP downloads the message header and certain parts, but omits the attachment server, for example.  

If you are concerned about your privacy, POP3 is a good protocol because you can copy the emails you receive from the server. Using POP3 connects directly to the mail server, which means that you can download all the new emails you receive when you check your phone in the morning.   

SMTP –  e-mail transmission protocol 

SMTP is a simple e-mail transmission protocol that can be used to send e-mails between e-mail clients. The main advantage of Internet Message Access Protocol is that you can receive e-mails from more than one computer or device. Your email client and Internet server can use SMTP, and you can complete your email and click Send.   

Connect via SSL to the Mail Server via port 143 or 993, retrieve the e-mail message, stay connected to the Mail Client or app, close the message and download it if needed.   


Both POP3 and IMAP e-mail protocols IMAP protocol is used to connect your mailbox to the server via an e-mail client. Unlike POP3, IMAP e-mails are downloaded to the local device and stored on the server so that they can be synchronized. However, changes to the e-mail are not transferred to other devices as the changes are synchronized across devices. IMAP is used to retrieve emails from the e-mail server so you can read the messages on your device.    

If, for example, you want to read e-mails using an app on a smartphone or tablet, this e-mail is processed by an app that communicates via one of two protocols with the main e-mail server: IMAP or POP3. When you access your email on different devices (mobile, laptop, desktop, etc. ), the IMAP protocol is used.   

Why we recommend IMAP?

If you only use one email client on a dedicated computer, say in your office, then you will be fine with POP3 and we recommend IMAP. On the other hand, POP3 is useful if we have access to e-mails with one device and have a large number of e-mails and want to access them all at the same time.   

We can conclude from the above discussion that IMAP is very powerful and it is best to use it when we want to access our e-mails through multiple devices, for example a smartphone and a computer. If you have an iPhone, Android tablet, laptop or desktop and want to read emails on all, then POP3 is the better choice.

We recommend IMAP because it gives you the ability to manage your email client across devices and gives you the assurance that you can still access your emails if something goes wrong with your device.   

In summary

It is important to know how POP and IMAP work to make the right choice for your email needs. If you use POP3 to check your e-mail on many devices (phone, computer, etc. ), or use a Webmail service, set up your e-mail client to IMAP. When you connect via a Messaging Access Protocol (IMAP) server to the Internet, the client app can read the email without downloading a copy for reading, but the actual business is done on the server.


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