POP vs. IMAP: Know the Difference
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on November 21, 2023
POP is for downloading emails to a single device and deleting from the server; IMAP syncs messages across multiple devices, keeping them on the server.
The simplicity of POP can be its advantage and its downfall. It makes for less use of server storage and can be quicker due to local storage of emails. Conversely, IMAP offers a more comprehensive experience, keeping the inbox experience consistent across all devices, which is more suited to how many use email today.
POP operates on the premise that there will be one place to read your emails, like a personal computer. It is not designed for the modern age of multiple devices. IMAP allows users to read their emails as if they were all connected; actions taken on one device are reflected on all others.
With POP, the email client connects to the email server briefly to download messages. Once downloaded, these emails are typically removed from the server. IMAP maintains a constant connection with the server, where messages are stored and managed.
POP might be the right choice if you're concerned with storing sensitive emails on a remote server. IMAP is the clear winner for users who need to access their email on the go from various devices and locations.
POP (Post Office Protocol) is a simple, older email protocol that downloads and stores email on a single device, typically deleting them from the server afterwards. It is most useful when email access is needed from only one location. IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol), on the other hand, is more flexible and complex, allowing emails to be accessed and synchronized across multiple devices.
Downloads emails to local storage
Syncs emails across multiple devices
Server Email Deletion
Deletes from server after download
Keeps emails on server
Primarily from a single device
From multiple devices
Only for downloading
Constant for syncing
Low server storage, high local storage
High server storage, low local necessity
POP and IMAP Definitions
With a loud pop, the balloon burst into a flurry of fragments.
The idea of shared information systems aligns with the IMAP philosophy.
I went fishing with Pop down by the lake every Sunday.
"to map something imaginatively"
The writer's task is to IMAP a world that captivates readers.
She said she would pop over for a visit this afternoon.
"a method or strategy"
The team developed an IMAP for handling customer inquiries more efficiently.
"to place something"
Pop the cookies into the oven for about 15 minutes.
"to make an impact"
Her speech aimed to IMAP the audience's perspective on climate change.
To make a short, sharp, explosive sound.
"to impose a pattern"
The architect aimed to IMAP the city's skyline with his innovative designs.
To burst open with a short, sharp, explosive sound.
To move quickly or unexpectedly; appear abruptly
At last the cottage popped into view.
To open wide suddenly
The child's eyes popped with astonishment.
To have the eustachian tubes open suddenly, equalizing pressure on both sides of the eardrum in response to changes in atmospheric pressure, as in a descending airplane
After I swallowed, my ears popped.
(Baseball) To hit a short high fly ball, especially one that can be caught by an infielder
Popped out to shortstop.
To shoot a firearm, such as a pistol.
To be exciting
A club that really pops at night.
To be visually striking
A logo that really pops.
To cause to make a sharp bursting sound.
To cause to open with a sharp bursting sound
Popped the hood of the car to check the oil.
To cause to explode with a sharp bursting sound
Popped the balloon.
To put or thrust suddenly or unexpectedly
"popping a crisp plump shrimp into her mouth" (Kathleen Winsor).
To discharge (a firearm).
To fire at; shoot.
To hit or strike
Popped me on the head.
(Baseball) To hit (a ball) high in the air but not far.
To release (a clutch) suddenly.
To take (drugs), especially orally
"To calm a case of the jitters ... the bride popped Valium" (People).
To have (a drink)
Popped a few beers after work.
(Slang) To take into legal custody; arrest
"Her friend was visiting and got popped for a DUI while he was driving her car" (Jamie Harrison).
A sudden sharp, explosive sound.
A shot with a firearm.
Chiefly Midwestern US See soft drink. See Note at tonic.
(Baseball) A pop fly.
With a popping sound.
Abruptly or unexpectedly.
Of or for the general public; popular or popularized
Of, relating to, or specializing in popular music
A pop singer.
Of or suggestive of pop art
A pop style.
(countable) A loud, sharp sound, as of a cork coming out of a bottle.
Listen to the pop of a champagne cork.
An effervescent or fizzy drink, most frequently nonalcoholic; soda pop.
Lunch was sandwiches and a bottle of pop.
A bottle, can, or serving of effervescent or fizzy drink, most frequently nonalcoholic; a soda pop.
Go in the store and buy us three pops.
A pop shot: a quick, possibly unaimed, shot with a firearm.
The man with the gun took a pop at the rabbit.
A quantity dispensed; a portion; apiece.
They cost 50 pence a pop.
Something that stands out or is distinctive to the mind or senses.
A white dress with a pop of red
A pop of vanilla flavour
(computing) The removal of a data item from the top of a stack.
A bird, the European redwing.
(physics) The sixth derivative of the position vector with respect to time (after velocity, acceleration, jerk, jounce, crackle), i.e. the rate of change of crackle.
A small, immature peanut, boiled as a snack.
(colloquial) freeze pop
A (usually very) loud audience reaction.
My pop used to tell me to do my homework every night.
A Russian Orthodox priest; a parson.
(intransitive) To make a pop, or sharp, quick sound.
The muskets popped away on all sides.
(ergative) To burst (something) with a popping sound.
The boy with the pin popped the balloon.
This corn pops well.
To enter, or issue forth, with a quick, sudden movement; to move from place to place suddenly; to dart.
A rabbit popped out of the hole.
To place (something) (somewhere); to move or position (something) with a short movement.
Just pop it in the fridge for now.
He popped his head around the door.
To make a short trip or visit.
I'm just popping round to the newsagent.
I'll pop by your place later today.
(intransitive) To stand out; to be distinctive to the senses.
This colour really pops.
(transitive) To hit (something or someone).
He popped me on the nose.
To shoot (usually somebody) with a firearm.
To ejaculate; to orgasm.
To remove (a data item) from the top of a stack.
To give birth.
To pawn (something) (to raise money).
I had to pop my watch to see me through until pay-day.
To swallow or consume (especially a tablet of a drug, sometimes extended to other small items such as sweets or candy).
To perform (a move or stunt) while riding a board or vehicle.
To undergo equalization of pressure when the Eustachian tubes open.
My ears popped as the aeroplane began to ascend.
(dance) To perform the popping style of dance.
He's on probation. We can pop him right now for gang association.
Used to represent a loud, sharp sound, as of a cork coming out of a bottle.
(used attributively in set phrases) Popular.
A small, sharp, quick explosive sound or report; as, to go off with a pop.
A nonalcoholic carbonated beverage; - so called because it expels the cork with a pop from the bottle containing it; as, ginger pop; lemon pop, etc.
The European redwing.
To make a pop, or sharp, quick sound; as, the muskets popped away on all sides.
To enter, or issue forth, with a quick, sudden movement; to move from place to place suddenly; to dart; - with in, out, upon, off, etc.
He that killed my king . . . Popp'd in between the election and my hopes.
A trick of popping up and down every moment.
To burst open with a pop, when heated over a fire; as, this corn pops well.
To thrust or push suddenly; to offer suddenly; to bring suddenly and unexpectedly to notice; as, to pop one's head in at the door.
He popped a paper into his hand.
To cause to pop; to cause to burst open by heat, as grains of Indian corn; as, to pop corn or chestnuts.
To eat or swallow; - of food, especially snacks, in small pieces; as, he popped a whole can of peanuts while watching the movie.
Like a pop; suddenly; unexpectedly.
An informal term for a father; probably derived from baby talk
A sweet drink containing carbonated water and flavoring;
In New England they call sodas tonics
A sharp explosive sound as from a gunshot or drawing a cork
Music of general appeal to teenagers; a bland watered-down version of rock'n'roll with more rhythm and harmony and an emphasis on romantic love
His eyes popped
Hit a pop-fly;
He popped out to shortstop
Make a sharp explosive noise;
The cork of the champagne bottle popped
Fire a weapon with a loud explosive noise;
The soldiers were popping
Cause to make a sharp explosive sound;
He popped the champagne bottle
Appear suddenly or unexpectedly;
The farm popped into view as we turned the corner
He suddenly popped up out of nowhere
Put or thrust suddenly and forcefully;
Pop the pizza into the microwave oven
He popped the petit-four into his mouth
Pop the clutch
Hit or strike;
He popped me on the head
Drink down entirely;
He downed three martinis before dinner
She killed a bottle of brandy that night
They popped a few beer after work
Take drugs, especially orally;
The man charged with murder popped a valium to calm his nerves
Cause to burst with a lound, explosive sound;
The child popped the balloon
Burst open with a sharp, explosive sound;
The balloon popped
This popcorn pops quickly in the microwave oven
(of music or art) new and of general appeal (especially among young people)
Like a pop or with a pop;
Everything went pop
Pop music often has a catchy melody and rhythm that gets stuck in your head.
Repeatedly Asked Queries
What does POP stand for?
POP stands for Post Office Protocol.
What is a downside to using POP?
A downside to using POP is that if the device fails, the locally stored emails may be lost.
Is POP suitable for multiple device email management?
No, POP is not designed for managing emails across multiple devices.
What is the main purpose of POP?
The main purpose of POP is to download emails from the server for local storage on a single device.
How does POP affect server storage?
POP typically downloads and deletes emails from the server, reducing server storage needs.
Can you switch from POP to IMAP?
Yes, users can switch from POP to IMAP, but it requires changing server settings and possibly migrating emails.
How does POP handle email deletion?
POP usually deletes emails from the server once they're downloaded to the local device.
Is IMAP secure?
IMAP can be secure when used with SSL/TLS encryption.
What does IMAP stand for?
IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol.
How does IMAP differ from POP in terms of email storage?
IMAP syncs and stores emails on the email server, allowing access from multiple devices.
Can POP and IMAP be used at the same time?
Technically yes, but it's not practical as they serve different purposes and can cause conflicts.
Can IMAP work offline?
IMAP requires an internet connection for syncing, but users can access downloaded messages offline.
Does IMAP save space on the local device?
Yes, because emails are stored on the server, IMAP can save local storage space.
What if I read an email on one device using IMAP?
If you read an email on one device using IMAP, it will show as read on all devices.
What are the latest versions of POP and IMAP?
The latest versions are POP3 and IMAP4.
Should I use IMAP if I have limited server storage?
If server storage is an issue, POP may be a better choice as it stores emails locally.
Is IMAP better than POP?
IMAP is generally considered better for users who need to access their email from multiple devices.
Does using IMAP require more server resources?
Yes, IMAP requires more server resources due to the constant syncing process.
What is a benefit of IMAP over POP?
A benefit of IMAP is the ability to manage and sync emails across multiple devices.
Can I use POP with modern email applications?
Yes, many modern email applications still support POP, though IMAP is often recommended.
Share this page
Link for your blog / website
Link to share via messenger
Written byShumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.