The difference between managing your email with POP and IMAP

[id : 225] [07/01/2010] [hits : 68417]

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When an email is sent to your email address, it first arrives on a mailserver where it is stored temporarily until it is picked up with a mailprogram (such as Outlook, Mail and Webmail). How you will manage your messages with such a mailprogram depends on whether you use POP or IMAP.

The biggest difference between POP and IMAP is that with POP all your messages will be stored on your local computer, while with IMAP your mail will be stored on the mailserver.

IMAP is ideal if you access your mail from (many) different computers, as all mail is stored on the mailserver, and from wherever you connect to the server, you will see all your messages.

With POP, you connect once to the server to download newly arrived messages to your computer and to send new messages yourself, after which you close the network connection and do all management (moving messages to folders, deleting messages, etc...) offline.

Note that the amount of messages you can store with IMAP will be more restricted than with POP. With IMAP you are limited to the storage capacities you have on the mailserver, whereas with POP you will be restricted to the capacity of the harddisk on your computer.

With IMAP, you don't have to worry about backups. All your mail is stored on the server, and the Computing Centre takes care of the backups. With POP, you will have to make those backups of your messages yourself.

Peter Van Rossem -

If you use IMAP, it best to have a permanent network connection, as you will have to be online while managing your mail and mailboxes on the server.

If you manage your mail with POP, messages are transferred to your local computer, and, by default, removed from the server. If this is inconvenient, you can instruct your mailprogram to leave the messages on the server for a limited period of time (by preference 15 days or less)

If you access your mail from different computers with POP and IMAP, make sure that you do not access them from more than one computer at the time, or you will risk to loose messages. Make sure to close your mailprogram on one computer if you intend to access your messages from another computer later, e.g. the one at home and at the university.

Backups of your mailbox are kept 3 months.

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