What is the difference between POP3 & IMAP?



IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol v4) is the mail protocol used as todays standard and the one that we normally recommend using. When connecting your mailbox via IMAP, your mail client views the messages within your mailbox on the server. Messages are not downloaded to your computer for storage and so this means that your mail can be accessed from multiple locations and devices, for example from your home computer and a mobile phone or for users sharing a mailbox, eg a sales department where more than one person needs to check incoming mail for an address. IMAP also supports folders, therefore mail can be organised on the server into separate folders for easy access.

IMAP is a faster protocol than POP3, especially with larger mailboxes. The other advantage to this protocol is that due to your mail being left on the server, this is regularly backed up by our servers so that should anything happen to your computer or you accidentally delete a message, we can recover this for you from a backup.


POP3 (Post Office Protocol v3) is an older mail protocol that supports basic access to a mailbox. This generally will log into your mailbox, download the messages from the server to your local computer/device and then delete the messages from the server. This does mean that you save space on your hosting account, however you cannot then access existing mail from another location as it will no longer be on the server. It also means that your mail is not backed up with our regular server backups and so should anything happen to your computer, your mail may be permanently lost. Additionally, with POP3 you cannot share mailboxes as when a POP3 connection is made to the server, the mailbox is locked for the duration of the connection and so no other simultaneous connections can be made.


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