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Comparing POP vs IMAP Internet Standards for Email

This short comparison of POP vs IMAP spells out the differences between these two Internet standards for retrieving emails.

Generally, POP and IMAP are similar in that both are used for email retrieval and they both rely on Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) to send out emails. However, they are some differences that separate these two as listed below:

  • POP is older and defines only simple commands for email retrieval while IAMP has more complex operations like folder structure, message flags such as read or deleted, it asks for headers or bodies of messages.
  • IMAP enables synchronization between devices and online servers while POP messages are stored and managed on the local computer or device
  • POP tends to be faster in the retrieval of emails while IMAP tends to be slower due to the extra tasks involved in synchronizing making it less stable.
  • IMAP defaults to downloading a copy of the message while POP moves the message from the server to the local device
  • The POP protocol requires the currently connected client to be the only client connected to the mailbox while IMAP can have multiple clients connected concurrently
  • IMAP can retrieve part of a message for example headers, or message only and not attachments, while POP retrieves the entire message.

That’s it, you now know the basic differences between POP vs IMAP.

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