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Checking your email – IMAP vs. POP – what’s the difference?
Checking your email – IMAP vs. POP – what’s the difference?
By James Sharpe
Checking your email – IMAP vs. POP – what’s the difference?

One of the most common questions we get from clients is, “What is the difference between IMAP and POP?”.

IMAP and POP are both email protocols that are used when communicating and transferring emails between your mail server and your device (ie., computer, phone, tablet).

Which one is better for you?

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol)

When you receive a message, the mail app will leave the message on the mail server and stream a copy to your devices. The email remains on the server, and you can access it via another IMAP mail client and view your mail exactly as it appears in your other devices, which will keep everything in sync.


  • Access the same emails across multiple devices.
  • Emails are kept on the server as a backup.
  • Access your messages any time from Webmail.


  • Contributes to Disk Space usage on your hosting plan.
  • Some mail clients might sometimes fail to sync your folders back to the server.

POP (Post Office Protocol)

All of your emails will be downloaded to the device you access it from (into the mail client) and removed from the mail server. This will allow you to read your emails while online or offline. This is a great option if you do not wish to invest in more Disk Space or email storage as part of your plan.


  • Does not build up Disk Space usage on your hosting service.
  • Emails are accessible offline.


  • Emails can only be saved to one device.
  • Messages are removed from the mail server – no backup available.


What do we recommend?

Sherpa Digital recommends the use of the IMAP protocol for email retrieval.  Most email users are always online and thus will have a connection to the email server when needed.  Additionally, email storage is cheap and secure so rather than relying on your own devices to store your emails, and potentially run the risk of losing your data, it is often more reliable to keep your emails stored with a dedicated email host who is most likely performing regular backups of your data and have practices in place to keep it secure.

Need more information?  Get in touch


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