IMAP vs POP3: Difference and Comparison

The servers use certain protocols to bring back some data from the servers of the mail, and such protocols include IMAP and POP3.

Both of them work as the main Message Accessing Agents (MAA). IMAP and POP3 are two widely used protocols allowing access through a third party’s mail. Here, you will be able to get a clear review of both of these protocols.

Key Takeaways

  1. IMAP synchronizes email messages between the server and multiple devices, allowing users to manage their inboxes from various platforms.
  2. POP3 downloads emails to a single device and removes them from the server, restricting access to the downloaded device.
  3. IMAP offers more flexibility and is preferable for users who access their emails on different devices, while POP3 is suited for those who prefer local storage and single-device access.


IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is a protocol email clients use to retrieve email messages from a mail server. With IMAP, the email messages are stored on the server. POP3 (Post Office Protocol version 3) is another protocol for retrieving email messages. With POP3, the email messages are downloaded to the local device and then deleted from the server. 

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IMAP is a protocol used to bring back email from the mail server from any remote area and on any suitable device.

When an email is viewed using the IMAP, the user can read the actual message before the completion of the downloading process, and this is because IMAP enables the users to read the notes on the server.

On the other hand, the mail retrieving application is used for going through email via the internet; therefore, the protocol is known as POP3.

POP3 allows one to only read their respective email when the emails are wholly downloaded and not before that.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonIMAPPOP3
DevicesThe required emails can be downloaded on various devices. POP3 has an excellent speed capacity.
AdvancementIMAP is highly advanced and featured. In terms of advancement, POP3 lacks behind.
SpeedIMAP is a bit slower while using. Syncing of emails can be accomplished using IMAP.
Number of Mails at a TimeEach mail can be checked before downloading process in the IMAP. While using POP3, the user is bound to download all the messages in a single shot.
SyncingSyncing of emails can be accomplished using the IMAP. The POP3 never allows syncing the emails on the server.

What is IMAP?

Emails are essential in our lives, as it helps us to connect with various platforms. Therefore, IMAP is a type of protocol that was put forward to help its users access their emails from any place, time, and device.

It depends upon the user’s availability. And the most exciting fact about IMAP is that users can go through their emails without even downloading them, and the reason behind this is that the emails are read on the server itself.

Therefore, the privacy of the user is well maintained.

In simple terms, IMAP is the abbreviation that is used for the terms Internet Message Access Protocol. This protocol helps the user access their emails on various devices in a single shot, per one’s requirement.

It is a highly self-sufficient protocol as it carries numerous features and the speed of IMAP is also great. But, it is a bit complex to use, especially for the learners. But, on the other side, the ones who are used to it can efficiently work on it.

Users can organize their emails while using IMAP on their respective servers. Also, it has a feature wherein the user can check the emails even before downloading them.

Therefore, this helps the users download only the required emails, which is quite time-saving.


What is POP3?

POP3,, also known as Post Office Protocol, is widely used to retrieve emails. With the help of the internet servers, it helps the users to go through the emails.

With the usage of POP3, one can go through their emails, but it comes with an exception, one has to download their emails on their devices fully, and hence after the completion of the process, they can go through them.

It is quite time-consuming as one has to download every email to check whether that is the required email. But, generally, it works perfectly and is loved by its users.

POP3 users can only download their emails on a single device that they are using and not more than that. Therefore, this feature helps secure their emails without any issues.

It is easy to use and popularly used by people who are beginners.

POP3 has an excellent speed capacity, which is very useful while downloading process, as we have already discussed that all the emails on the server are required to be downloaded,

and only after this process be they can access it through email.

Therefore, where one process is time-consuming, and the other saves time. Also, the emails are not allowed to sync with the server in the POP3 protocol.

Main Differences Between IMAP and POP3

  1. Various devices can install the mail while using IMAP; however, POP3 users can only download the mail on a single device.
  2. IMAP is comparatively more advanced than POP3, while on the other hand, POP3 lacks some features and therefore makes it a bit more retreated than IMAP.
  3. IMAP downloads mail at a faster rate, while on the other hand, it takes time in POP3.
  4. Before downloading any mail, IMAP allows checking each mail while, on the other hand, such a feature is absent in POP3.
  5. By using IMAP, one can sync the mails with the server, while on the other hand, the users are unable to use the server to sync mails.
Difference Between IMAP and POP3

Last Updated : 03 July, 2023

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