Difference Between IMAP And POP3


What is IMAP?

IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. It is an Internet standard protocol used by email clients to retrieve email messages from a mail server over a TCP/IP connection.It stores email messages on a mail server and enables the recipient to view and manipulate them as though they were stored locally on their device(s).

IMAP enables users to organize messages into folders, flag messages for urgency or follow-up, and save draft messages on the server. Users can also have multiple email client applications that sync with the email server to consistently show which messages have been read or are still unread.

What is POP3?

POP stands for Post Office Protocol and is an application-layer Internet standard protocol used by e-mail clients to retrieve e-mail from a mail server. The “3” refers to the third version of the original POP protocol.

Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3) is an mail protocol used to retrieve mail from a remote server to a local email client. POP3 copies the mail from the remote server into the local mail client. Optionally, mail is deleted after it is downloaded from the server. This saves space on the server. POP3 is a one-way client-server protocol in which email is received and held on the email server. POP version 3 is the version in common use.

Also Read: Difference SMTP And POP3

IMAP vs POP3 In Tabular Form

Acronym IMAP stands for internet Message Access Protocol. POP3 stands for Post Office Protocol 3.
Description IMAP is much more advanced and allows you the user to see all the folders on the mail server. POP is a simple protocol that only allows downloading messages from your Inbox to your local computer.
Message Access Messages can be accessed across multiple devices. In POP3 the mail can only be accessed from a single device at a time.
Server The IMAP server listens on port 143, and the IMAP with SSL secure (IMAPDS) server listens on port 993. The POP server listens on port 110, and the POP with SSL secure (POP3DS) server listens on port 995.
Mail The mail content can be read partially before downloading. To read the mail, it has to be downloaded on the local system.
User The user can organize the emails directly on the mail server. The user cannot organize mails in the mailbox of the mail server.
Mail Manipulation The user can create, delete or rename email on the mail server. The user cannot create, delete or rename email on the mail server.
Nature It is bi-directional i.e all the changes made on server or device are made on the other side too. It is uni-directional i.e all the changes made on a device does not affect the content present on the server.
Search A user can search the content of mail for specific string before downloading. A user cannot search the content of mail before downloading to the local system.
Download Mail message header can be previewed before a message is to be downloaded. All messages are downloaded at once.
Change A mail can be updated via a web interface or email software. Using local email software, a mail can be updated.  
Speed It is slower than POP3. It is fast.

Also Read: Difference Between Email And Gmail