We receive a lot of questions about the difference between POP and IMAP for email and why we suggest setting up your email the way we do. Why does it matter? Let’s find out!

POP is one of the first email protocols. Incoming emails get downloaded automatically and stored directly on your computer via an email client like Microsoft Outlook. Deleting an email delivered via POP only removes it off your computer. Read and unread emails also aren’t synced between devices. Even though it’s an older protocol and doesn’t have as many features as IMAP, we recommend our clients use it on their primary computer as it creates a convenient email backup via automatic downloads.

IMAP is a more feature-rich email protocol that is used across the web with email clients like Microsoft Outlook or webmail like Gmail and Yahoo Mail. With IMAP, emails are stored on the server and are only fully downloaded to your computer or device when you open them. Having the server as a middleman means each computers and devices will be synced automatically. If you read a message on one  device, it’ll appear as read on all your other IMAP devices. Also when you, deleting from one device, deletes it from all other IMAP devices.

Below are our recommended email setups:

If you only have one computer — POP

If you only have one main computer it makes sense for it to also be your backup source. Use POP to automatically download your messages so you always have a reliable storage.

If you have two or more computers — make main one POP and secondary computers, IMAP

It’s a good idea to use POP for the email client on your primary computer – maybe your home desktop or work computer – so you can keep a consistent backup of your emails. You never know when you might delete an important message on another devices and you need to get it back. Setup your other computers as IMAP so they only access your email when you need to. When setting up POP on your email client, make sure that you allow a copy of your email be kept on server (we recommend for at least 30 days) otherwise, when you connect via IMAP you won’t see any of your new messages.

One computer and a smartphone — POP on PC and IMAP on smartphone

If you have POP set up on your computer’s email client, setting up your phone with IMAP means deleting emails or reading messages on your phone won’t affect your backup. Since IMAP syncs faster than POP, your phone will get email notifications faster when you’re on the go. With IMAP, only the header of emails are initially downloaded. Only when you open the email does the rest of the message and contents load. This is key since it’ll limit the amount of mobile data your email will consume.

Accessing your email on a temporary devices
If you’re not near your personal computer to check your email and your email is hosted on one of our mail servers, you can log onto your email via webmail by visiting your website plus /webmail. Example:  www.inconcertweb.com/webmail. Webmail is a “virtual” email client that accesses your mail via IMAP and won’t download your emails to the device.

For instructions on setting up POP and IMAP on either your computer or smartphone, visit our handy Email Setup tool. For more information about POP and IMAP, check out this site.


Email designed by Ben Hsu from the thenounproject.com
Smart-Phone designed by Alex Berkowitz from the thenounproject.com