A few clients have been asking what IMAP and POP are and what the difference is. IMAP and POP are two different methods for retrieving your email from a mail server. Selecting the best method for you will be based on your circumstances and how you plan to work with your emails. I will give you a quick overview of each method, then suggest your best set up.
You need to remember that when you receive an email it isn't actually 'delivered' to your computer. It's all handled by mail servers, when someone sends you an email it will be delivered to your mail server. You then login to your mail server to download your emails.
Accessing your mail
There are a wide array of 'email clients' available to access and retrieve your mail, the most common clients are:
- A 'desktop client' - such as Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird or Apple Mail
- Webmail - where you use your internet browser to logon to an email service and read your email there. Some popular webmail providers include; Google's GMail, Microsoft's Hotmail or Yahoo!'s Mail (although you can use your 'desktop client' to get your mail from these providers - but we will get onto that later!)
- Smart phone - the vast majority of phones now come with email capabilities, so you can get all your email delivered to your iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Android phone.
As well as different email clients available to get your mail, there is also a choice of methods / protocols to deal with the retrieval of your mail. We will just be looking at POP and IMAP although others are available. Their main difference is where the emails are stored and how this effects how you work with your emails.
When retrieving emails via POP you download and remove the email from the mail server, the emails are stored on your computer (however, you can configure POP to leave a copy on the server). POP generally provides the quickest access as the email is downloaded and manipulated on your computer. In theory, there is no way for you to reach your maximum mailbox size as you are constantly downloading and moving the emails from the server onto your computer. However, this means you are solely responsible for backing up your emails!
This image demonstrates the communication process in POP - as you can see the data / emails flow one way.
When retrieving emails via IMAP the emails are left on the server, any changes you make to the email are also made on the server (such as reading, deleting, replying or flagging the email). IMAP generally results in slower access, or at least a slower perceived access as you will have to wait whilst the email is downloaded (this depends on your email client and configuration). Because the emails are stored on the server it's very easy to restore an entire mailbox.
This image shows the communication process with IMAP, as you can see the data flows two ways. This allows the different clients to synchronise with the server.
So Which One Should I Use?
If you plan to access your emails from more than one email client (i.e. a desktop client and a smart phone) then you will need to use IMAP. Only IMAP supports synchronisation - because POP clients will remove the email from the server, no other client will be able to access the email. IMAP also synchronises the message 'status' across your clients - for example, if you read a message on your smart phone it will show up as read on all your other clients.
IMAP can also be used on mailboxes where multiple people will have access - for example a generic info@ address. You could have several people accessing this mailbox; IMAP synchronises the email across all computers, so people can tell if a message has been read, deleted, flagged and dealt with.
|Fast access||Slightly slower|
|No way to reach mailbox size limit||You will need to 'archive' old mail to prevent your mailbox growing too large|
|You must backup your own emails||Emails stored on server (although always good practice to have your own backup)|
|No synchronisation - cannot be used with mailboxes with multiple users or single mailboxes with a variety of emails clients||Synchronisation between all devices and people accessing the mailbox.|
|If your emails crash you must restore from your own backup.||If your emails crash you can simply add a new account and all your emails will be downloaded.|
|Best for one person accessing one mailbox||Best for one person with multiple devices or mailboxes with multiple users|
All good providers should offer both methods to collect your mail as well as offering a webmail service.
I hope this post helps someone out when choosing between the two - if you have any questions please let me know in the comments below.
11 hours 9 min agoWhy the cloud works; today we were able to bring up an larger server from running server image. Test. Then switch them with no downtime.
5 days 9 hours ago@pekiZG Ahh - that would explain it! No problem - good to hear it's sorted now ;) Have fun!
5 days 10 hours ago@pekiZG Yeah - that would be the .htaccess - it should rewrite all requests to index.php. But it's either a) missing or b) not being loaded