Jargon Busting - What is POP3 and IMAP?

When I started my web design business in 2005, I imagined the support I offered to my customers would be principally about websites. I was wrong. Most of the support I offer is regarding my customers' email accounts. It seems many people struggle with handling their email. And recently, it has become more complicated. But don't worry, I'm about to reveal how it can be made very easy.

But Surely Nobody Uses Email Now?

All of us but young people in particular are now using so many new ways to communicate. Facebook, Twitter, texting, What's App and many more. The only reason many people have an email account is to register a Facebook account.

But Businesses Still Use Cheques

Hardly anyone uses cheques these days but many businesses still do. I receive a good proportion of my fees as cheques although it is changing, slowly.

However, as far as email is concerned, this is still the primary method of communication for most businesses. That is why I spend so much time supporting them.

So What is the Difference Between POP3 and IMAP?

POP stands for "Post Office Protocol" and POP3 is the third version of this protocol. It is the simplest method of communication that allows simple downloading of emails from the server. There is very little interaction between the client (your PC or phone for example) and the mail server. Synchronising your emails across different devices is so limited that it is, to all intents and purposes, not possible.

IMAP stands for "Internet Message Access Protocol". It differs in that it allows you full access to the server on which you can even create folders and the like. It's most useful feature is that you can synchronise your emails across devices. So for example, if you read one of your emails on your PC, it shows as read on your phone too. And if you delete an email on your phone, it is deleted from your PC too. It is possible to synchronise across more than two devices if required.

Therefore, IMAP is the system I recommend. Here at Net Quality Web Design our email facilities that we provide to customers are fully compatible with either POP3 or IMAP.

And Don't Forget SMTP

One important point to note is that both POP3 and IMAP are for downloading of emails. Sending emails uses something called SMTP. But that's a whole new subject for a new article.

Net Quality