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What is POP3 and IMAP? Which one is better for Outlook?

What is POP3 and IMAP?

Setting up your Outlook or any other email client will ask you whether you want to set up POP3 or IMAP. Before choosing POP3 or IMAP, it is better to understand these two phrases clearly. Otherwise, you cannot make the right decision. Today in this article, I will let you know about both POP3 and IMAP, the Difference between these two, and many more. Let’s get started.

What is POP3 and IMAP? How do they work? Differences between POP3 and IMAP Which one suits you most for Outlook?

Know about the email clients

Typically when we use email services like Gmail, Hotmail, or yahoo, they all are webmail services. We need an internet connection to log in to these mail services. On the other hand, email client like Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, em client, etc is an application where all emails are downloaded, stored, and accessible, even without internet connectivity. Internet is only required for sending and receiving messages. Many more features are available in an email clients like Outlook and others.

The email client is used for sending and receiving emails, storing emails, keeping contacts, and task management. To connect with the webmail account and email client, there are two processes named POP3 and IMAP.

What is POP3?

POP3 stands for Post Office Protocol 3, which establishes access with an email client and webmail account. It is the most popular and commonly used standard protocol for receiving email over the internet. Most email servers and email clients support POP3. This is used to receive emails from an email server and send them to a local client.

How POP3 works?

POP3 contacts the email server downloads all emails and stores them in a local email client. After downloading emails from the server, it automatically deletes all emails from the email server. It means you cannot access the email from the server once an email has been downloaded. To access that email, you must access your email client, like Outlook. But there is an option, you can keep all your emails on the server as well.

If you try to access that email from another device through the internet, you will not find it there as it is downloaded already. But you can access that email from the email client even if no internet is available.

Sent mail is stored locally in the Sent Items folder of your email client. You can not find it in the email server sent item folder.

If your email server space is limited, POP3 can be your best solution.

What is IMAP?

IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol; it is a standard email incoming protocol that allows you to access your email from any device, anywhere in the world. It stores email messages in a mail server and enables the recipient to view and access them as emails are stored locally. But it is not locally stored. It does not download emails and their attachments.

How IMAP works?

When you access an email using IMAP, you are not downloading or storing it on your local computer. You are reading it from the email server. When you click any message, it downloads instantly.

If you are using IMAP, it is just a clone of the email server.  Your email client-sent item and email server-sent item are all identical. It is synchronized.

IMAP can be your best solution if you have unlimited space in your email server.

Difference Between POP3 and IMAP 

Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3) Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP)
  • POP3 only allows downloading messages from your server inbox to your local computer inbox.
  • IMAP is advanced and allows the user to see all the folders on the email server.
  • Email can be accessed from a single device.
  • Email can be accessed from multiple devices.
  • Email messages cannot be read before downloading.
  • Email messages can be read partially before downloading.
  • Users can organize local email clients. Cannot organize email server.
  • Users can organize the email server directly.
  • Users cannot delete or create an email on the email server.
  • Users can delete and create emails on the email server.
  • It is a one-directional communication system.
  • It is a two-directional communication system.
  • It is faster than IMAP.
  • It is slower than POP3.
  • No option to sync email with the email server and email client.
  • There is always ongoing sync with the local email client and server.
  • Messages downloaded at once.
  • Before downloading, only headers are downloaded.
  • POP3 connects the email server briefly, only while downloading emails.
  • IMAP keeps a connection with the email server continuously.
  • POP3 only allows one email client to connect to the email server simultaneously.
  • IMAP allows multiple email clients to connect with the email server simultaneously.
  • POP3 is simple.
  • IMAP is complex.
  • POP3 listens on 110 and POP with SSL; POP3DS listens on 995 port.
  •  IMAP listens on 143 and IMAP with SSL, IMAPDS listens on 993 port

Which one is better for Outlook?

If you read the above content correctly, you already have to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both POP3 and IMAP. POP3 and IMAP both are the most popular email protocols used worldwide. But if you need to decide which one you have to use it depends upon your activities and requirements.

If you are a general Outlook user, significantly less number of emails need to access it is better to use the IMAP method to set up Outlook. But if you have many emails with large attachments, better to use the POP3 method.

This is my personal opinion, but it depends upon your choice.

Where can I get POP3 and IMAP settings for Outlook?

If you are an employee, just ask your network administrator to provide this information. If you are an individual user and your mail server is like, then you go to your internet browser and type Login to your email server and go to settings to find POP3 and IMAP settings.

You will find there all information to set up your Outlook. If you do not know how to set up your company email account on Outlook, read the below content from our website.

POP3 and IMAP typical settings

Here is a typical POP3 and IMAP settings for you. I am not saying that your settings will be the same as this but it is a good example.

POP3 and IMAP settings

 I tried to give you a clear message n What is POP3 and IMAP. I hope, this content is helpful to you and it is clearly understandable. Thank you very much for being with us.


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