POP vs. IMAP – What’s the difference?

Learn the basics of the different email account types


Find out more about the differences between the various ways that you can receive email.

Gmail, AOL, Outlook, iCloud – most of us can’t function without emails. Whether we’re sending or receiving messages for business or personal purposes, it’s still one of the best ways to communicate on a daily basis.

When you first set up your email, you were given two account types to choose from: POP & IMAP. If you want to change the way you receive and manage your online communications, then it’s important to understand the difference between these two protocols, as they all provide unique ways for you to receive emails.

Let’s start with some definitions…

POP: Post Office Protocol is the original and very simple mail protocol, which is used to receive emails from a remote server to a local email client. The email is accessible even when you’re not online. POP moves your emails from your email server to your PC when you download. Examples include: Gmail and Inbox.com.

IMAP: Internet Messaging Access Protocol is the alternative to POP, and is much more advanced. It offers features such as multiple folders, mail uploading, and flag control. It also allows synchronisation between multiple mail clients. IMAP copies the email onto your computer. Examples include: Outlook Express and Thunderbird.

Which one is right for me?

Both have advantages and disadvantages. Your preference is entirely up to you, but if you need more help deciding, talk to us at Reboot Computer Services.

  • POP is the simplest to use and easiest to implement. However, it doesn’t provide a dependable syncing of all your devices, and the space is limited by your hard drive.
  • IMAP can store messages as well as retrieve them, and can access and manage multiple mailboxes. This protocol is best when accessing non-email data. Nevertheless, it is a complicated system and the setup must be carefully completed. There is also limited storage space on your server.

If you need help setting up your email or finding your mail server settings, talk to the professionals at Reboot Computer Services on 0401 092 197. Alternatively, you can fill out our online form. Servicing the Yarra Valley and beyond, we’re your local IT team that will get the job done, quickly!