What is IMAP and POP3?
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POP3 and IMAP are two different protocols used to access e-mail. POP3 and IMAP function very differently from each other and each has their own advantages. POP3 is useful for checking your e-mail from one computer at a single location. IMAP is the better option when you need to check your e-mail from multiple computers at different locations such as at work, home, or on the road.
POP3 works by accessing the inbox on the mail server and then downloading the new messages to your computer. With this type of account you do not have to stay logged on to the Internet. You can log on when you want to receive and send new messages. Once your new messages have been downloaded to your computer you can log off to read them. This option is good when you connect to the internet through a dial up service and are charged for your connection time.
IMAP lets you view the headers of the new messages on the server and then retrieves the message you want to read when you click on them. When using IMAP, the mail is stored on the mail server. Unless you copy a message to a “Local Folder” the messages are never copied to your PC. Using this protocol, all your mail stays on the server in multiple folders, some of which you have created. This enables you to connect to any computer and see all your mail and mail folders. In general, IMAP is great if you have a dedicated connection to the internet or you like to check your mail from various locations.
It is important to point out that POP3 can be set to leave your e-mail on the server instead of downloading to your computer. This feature enables you to check your e-mail from multiple locations just like IMAP. So why choose IMAP rather than POP3 with the leave mail on server setting? With the POP3 leave mail on server setting only your e-mail messages are on the server, but with IMAP your e-mail folders are also on the server.
So in a nutshell the scenarios for using POP3 and IMAP can be summarized as follows…
When should I use POP3?
-When you only check e-mail from one computer at a single location.
-You want to remove your e-mail from the mail server.
-You connect to the internet through dial up and are charged for connection time.
When should I use IMAP?
-When you need to check e-mail from multiple computers at multiple locations.
-You use Web mail such as Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail.
-You need to preserve the different e-mail folders you have created.
Tips for better performance
Keep your Inbox small! This is especially true for POP3 and will speed up your e-mail retrieval. Checking the e-mail is directly dependent on how many e-mail messages are in your inbox on the mail server.
– Try to reduce your inbox size. POP’ing large mail boxes consume excessive server resources.
– Set to remove mail from server at the end of every month or even sooner.
– Do not check your email more frequently than every 15 minutes.
– Do NOT check all folders for new messages! This slows your e-mail substantially.
– Organize your mail into folders, and archive your older messages. This speeds up e-mail retrieval by minimizing the number of messages in the inbox.