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The difference between POP3 and IMAP

When configuring our e-mail services in the e-mail software of your choice, you will be asked to use either POP(3) or IMAP. In this article we will explain the difference between both protocols.

With POP (Post Office Protocol) e-mails will be retreived like you would pick up mail at the post office. You identify yourself, the post office checks if new mail has arrived and will hand it to you. Your mail software does the same when using POP: it connects to the mail server, says which e-mail address is picking up the e-mails after which the e-mail server hands you new e-mails back.

Your e-mail software will transfer the e-mails to your computer so you can read them. The e-mails will now be on your computer and no longer on the mail server. Most e-mail software will however have an option to leave a copy of the e-mail on the mail server.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is very useful for reading e-mails on multiple devices, especially with the rise of mobile devices like smart phones and tablets. The content of your mailbox will be the same on each device that is using IMAP. Every incoming, read and sent e-mails can be consulted everywhere and always as the e-mails will be saved on the mail server. Another advantage of IMAP is that when one of your devices is no longer working, the e-mail will still be safely located on the mail server.

When using IMAP, the sender and the title of the e-mail will first be collected. Once you click on the message, the entire message will be collected from the server, but at the same time the message will remain on the mail server. What IMAP does is make a copy of the message on the server and places this message on your device. On top of that, your mail software will maintain an open connection with the mail server so new e-mails will be automatically retreived. 

Note: When you delete an e-mail on one device, it will also be deleted on other devices (including the e-mail that is located on the server.

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