What Is The Difference Between IMAP and POP3?

What Is The Difference Between IMAP and POP3?

I once received a call from a client who wanted her emails configured in her Microsoft Outlook. Since the client wanted an on phone step by step instruction, I went ahead to guide her through the email setup process. “Why should I choose IMAP and not POP3?” she asked. “Do I have to use the specific port numbers you are giving me?” she continued. If you have ever asked your email support the same questions, then you are in the right place. After reading this article, you will understand the following;

1. What Is IMAP, POP3 and SMTP
2. The history IMAP and POP3?
3. The difference between IMAP and POP3?

What is IMAP and POP3?

POP3 and IMAP are the most common protocols for accessing emails. All modern email clients like outlook and Gmail support these protocols.

What is SMTP?

Simple Mail Transfer protocol is simply a method for sending e-mail messages between servers.

The Default ports for SMTP;

Port 25 – this is the non-encrypted port default SMTP
Port 465 – this is the secure port                                                                                     Port 2525 – this port is opened  in case port 25 is filtered on all SiteGround servers (by your ISP for example) and you want to send non-encrypted emails with SMTP


The History of POP3

In 1984, the Post office protocol was introduced as a solution for accessing emails on a remote server. It is a one-way protocol meaning that your email client and the server are not synchronised thus whatever changes done on your email such as deleting a message will not reflect in the server or webmail box. For example, when you open an email using POP3, the emails are downloaded to your computer and removed from the email server meaning you can read your emails even when you are offline.

By default, POP3 email protocol is configured to work on these two ports;

  • Port 995 – Use this port if you want a secure connection
  • Port 110 – This is the non-encrypted default port

The History of IMAP

The Internet Message Access Imap was developed in 1986 as an alternative to Pop3 by Mark Crispin. It stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. It was developed to eliminate limitations of Pop3. Imap is a two-way protocol meaning if you use it in your email client, the changes you make such as deleting emails will reflect on the server, and after that, if you access the email from another device, you will find everything the same way you left them.

By default, the IMAP protocol works on two ports:

Port 143 – this is the default IMAP non-encrypted port
Port 993 – this is the port you need to use if you want to connect using IMAP securely

The Difference Between IMAP and POP3

What Is The Difference Between IMAP and POP3?

What Is The Difference Between IMAP and POP3?

i. With IMAP you have no device limitation to accessing your emails, With POP3 you can only access emails from one device.

ii. With IMAP all your emails are stored on the server giving you the ability to access them from any device. with POP3, your emails are downloaded and stored on the device you used for access hence the reason why it limits you to that one computer or device.

iii. With IMAP, your sent emails are stored on the server and not on your computer. With POP3, sent emails are stored on the computer and not on the server.

As more people communicate and transact business online, criminals are turning online to prey on unencrypted transactions and unsecured websites. Consequently, more business is moving to the cloud. Cloud hosting is where you rent a server from hosting giants like Amazon and Google to store all your email files without the cost of having a physical server.

With this shift, IMAP is the best option for retrieving your emails since you can always access your files from any device. Talk about full control.

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