Email Background Information--Message retrieval protocols; POP vs. IMAP Print

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POP was designed to allow users with intermittent connections such as dial-up connections to retrieve e-mail when connected, and then to view the retrieved messages without needing to stay connected. Although most clients have an option to leave mail on server, email clients using POP generally connect, retrieve all messages, store them on the user's PC, delete them from the server, and then disconnect. In contrast, the newer, more capable IMAP e-mail retrieval protocol supports both connected and disconnected modes of operation. E-mail clients using IMAP generally leave messages on the server until the user explicitly deletes them. This and other facets of IMAP operation allow multiple devices or clients to access the same mailbox. Most e-mail clients can be configured to use either POP or IMAP to retrieve messages. IMAP is the native protocol for all mailboxes at ABHost. POP should be used only if your client does not support IMAP.

IMAP was designed as a modern alternative to the widely used POP3 e-mail retrieval protocol. Fundamentally, both of these protocols allow an e-mail client to access messages stored on an e-mail server.

Important capabilities in IMAP but not POP3 include:

  • Support for both connected and disconnected modes of operation
  • Support for multiple clients simultaneously connected to the same mailbox. The IMAP protocol specifically allows simultaneous access by multiple clients and provides mechanisms for clients to detect changes made to the mailbox by other, concurrently connected, clients.
  • IMAP clients can create, rename, and delete folders on the server; and move messages between folders. ABHost delivers mail to your ’Inbox’ folder, and sometimes to your ‘Spam’ folder. If you are using POP you will not see messages delivered to your ‘Spam’ folder.
  • Support for server-side searches.


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