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What’s The Difference Between POP and IMAP

We all use e-mails these days right? Electronic mail is like a monster which is gulping the whole communication system.

We all use e-mail for even a trivial communication, be it to our boss to inform about the day’s events or to our close friends and relatives to exchange warm wishes and blessings.

Today we will see in detail how the e-mail network actually works. For that we need to introduce to you two brand new terms i.e POP and IMAP.

These two abbreviations, POP and IMAP stand for ‘Post Office Protocol’ and ‘Internet Messaged Access Protocol’ respectively. These two are the basic protocols used in the e-mail world. These protocols allow you to download and access your e-mail data from the server on your machine.

These protocols provide you with a browser free e-mail experience such as Microsoft Outlook ,Mozilla Thunderbird etc. Gmail ,Yahoo Mail are the ones which allow you only browser dependent e-mail services.


Using these protocols on these browser independent e-mail platforms doesn’t imply that you cannot access or modify your mail box via a browser. It’s just an additional facility to allow you a new unique and exciting e-mail experience.


These two protocols are mostly similar in their services and facilities but differ in two very important features of ‘synchronization’ and ‘connectivity’.


When you use POP for accessing your e-mail from your desktop machine or laptop, you are operating it almost in an offline mode. The client machine i.e your desktop machine or laptop is not connected and synced with the web server from where you are downloading the data in your e-mail.

Consider the instance when you have just downloaded some files from the web server via your e-mail on your client machine. The downloaded file is now readable and accessible on your client machine but if you check the web server,the file will no longer be existing there. This means that you cannot access the same file more than once and also you cannot access the same file from a different machine.This is about the ‘connectivity’ issue.

Now,regarding the ‘synchronization’ problem. Consider another instance when you made some changes like deleting some e-mail from your account on your client machine. Now if you check your web e-mail inbox you will find no change it it’s data. This happens because your mail account or rather client machine and web server are not synced with each other.



However, the IMAP overcomes both these shortcomings. IMAP users do not come across any issue like ‘connectivity’ and ‘synchronization’.

Connectivity is always in it’s good state while functioning with this protocol. If you download a file from the server on one client machine, the file is downloaded and accessible on that client machine as well as it still exists on the web server. Later if you feel the need of this file on some other client machine,you can do it without any hassles. And still this file would be available on the web server to download it again anytime in future.

Synchronization is also not much of a problem with IMAP as the various client machines from which you are logged into your inbox are and the web server are synced at all times.

If you are simultaneously logged in to your account from two different client machines and modify some data in your account say again by deleting an e-mail on any one client machine,you will see that the instant you delete the e-mail from any one of the client machines the e-mail is deleted from the web server as well as from the other client machine! Isn’t that amazing!

Some time back,you were asked which one is better out of POP and IMAP?

Though you had trouble answering this question earlier,but not after reading this article!

You definitely know that IMAP is the all-time-best protocol for our e-mail interaction on account of it’s amazing connectivity and absolutely fantastic synchronizing power!




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