Why should IMAP be preferred over POP ?

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) and POP (Post Office Protocol) are both email protocols used for retrieving email messages from a server. However, IMAP offers several advantages over POP that make it a better choice for many users.

  • Synchronization: IMAP allows you to synchronize your email across multiple devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers. When you read, delete, or move a message on one device, those changes are reflected on all of your other devices. POP, on the other hand, downloads your messages to your local device and then deletes them from the server, so your email is only available on the device where it was downloaded.
  • Storage: Because IMAP stores your email on the server, you can access your entire email archive from any device with an internet connection. With POP, once the email is downloaded to your device, it is no longer available on the server. This can limit your ability to access your email archive from other devices or to perform backups.
    Another key difference between the POP3 and IMAP is that using POP3 protocol the user has to download the mail before accessing it, whereas, using IMAP protocol user can partially check the content of mail prior downloading it.
  • Search: IMAP allows you to search your entire email archive on the server, including messages that are not currently downloaded to your device. POP, on the other hand, only allows you to search messages that have been downloaded to your device.
  • Security: IMAP supports encryption protocols such as SSL and TLS, which encrypt your email traffic between your device and the server. POP, however, does not provide encryption by default, which means that your email could be intercepted and read by attackers if you use an unsecured connection.

Comparison Chart

BasicTo read the mail it has to be downloaded first.The mail content can be checked partially before downloading.
OrganizeThe user can not organize mails in the mailbox of the mail server.The user can organize the mails on the server.
FolderThe user can not create, delete or rename mailboxes on a mail server.The user can create, delete or rename mailboxes on the mail server.
ContentA user can not search the content of mail for prior downloading.A user can search the content of mail for specific string of character before downloading.
Partial DownloadThe user has to download the mail for accessing it.The user can partially download the mail if bandwidth is limited.
FunctionsPOP3 is simple and has limited functions.IMAP is more powerful, more complex and has more features over POP3.

In summary, IMAP is generally considered a better choice than POP for most users because it offers synchronization, storage, search, and security advantages. However, if you have limited storage space on your device and do not need to access your email from multiple devices, or you have any special needs to access your mailbox, POP may still be a viable option.

Most recent email clients support IMAP over POP when creating a new email account.