• Nick Thomas

Emails: POP vs IMAP



Some of you may have, in the past or present, may have seen the above abbreviations when dealing with emails and scratched your heads (it's ok, I had to look up what they actually stood for, it's at the bottom), so here is your analogy post! POP is simple, IMAP less so, so let's start with a physical Post Office Box. POP - you travel from your house (your computer) to the post office (email server) and you take your mail and you drive home. It's now on your computer (in your house) and not in the post office anymore - that's the general gist. You can do some limited fancy things like leave a copy at the post office for a specified time, but that's about it. IMAP - You travel to the post office and you make a photocopy of the mail and you bring the copy home. The mail all still sits at the post office. forever.... sort of. This is handy if you're got several devices checking the mail and you want them ALL to have EXACTLY the same catalog of emails for business purposes, or maybe you're just OCD like that. But... if one of those devices deletes one of those copies, it notifies the post office, the post office deletes the original and that mail vanishes from ALL the other devices too. I've seen IMAP do some funky things, sometimes it doesn't behave exactly as it should if you're using an older mail client or your internet connection is a bit sketchy or mars is in retrograde. Where-as POP is just solid. Thankfully, I'm not in a position where I need 100% accurate access to all my emails at a moments notice, so I've got POP on my main machine at the office, which then leaves a copy of the mail for 30 days. This means I've got a rolling 30 day list of emails on my phone - if it's more than a month old, it can probably wait till I'm back at the office. IMAP - Internet Mail Access Protocol POP - Post Office Protocol

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