IMAP or POP? Which One Should I Choose?

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You just want to set up your e-mail so you can see what people are sending you and then your e-mail application of choice throws you a question: IMAP or POP?

Well, which one do I pick?

It’s a common dilemma. There’s loads of technical jargon we could go into – and I’m sure we will another time on a geeky post. But for now, there’s a simple difference that will allow you to make an informed choice.

POP = Download E-mail & Delete From Server

A bit techy?

OK, basically, at one time POP was the POPular option (see what I did there?). Hard disk space was expensive.

All e-mail gets sent to a server and sits there. Under POP, once your e-mail client (e.g. Outlook or Thunderbird) downloads the message to your computer it’s deleted from the server.

If you share an e-mail address with someone, POP is a bad idea – only the first person to ‘ask’ for a message will ever see it.

If you use multiple devices to check your e-mail, POP is also a bad idea. You’ll have half your e-mails on your phone and the other half on your PC (for example).

If your computer/phone melts down/resets etc all your previous e-mails are gone forever.

IMAP = Download E-mail & Keep On Server

Nothing gets deleted from the server unless you explicitly delete an e-mail.

Device sharing and shared e-mail addresses present no issues – every device and person gets a copy of every e-mail received – as long as it’s not explicitly deleted by the other person or on the other device.

Still Confused? TL/DR

If in doubt, select IMAP.

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