Posted by: John Masterson, Modwest co-founder
We've helped customers with this question many times over the years, and here are some selected highlights:
In a nutshell, IMAP frees me from having to wonder "where" my emails are, and whether I'm working with "copies" or not.
Think of IMAP as a way to work directly with the server itself, as opposed to "copies" of your messages. With a typical setup, any actions you take on your emails (deleting, for example) happen on the server and your local machine simultaneously. When you delete an email with IMAP, it is usually moved into your server-side trash folder. When you empty that folder (or individual mails there) they are deleted from the server permanently.
Unless you move messages to your local computer, you can only view your IMAP messages while connected to the internet.
And regarding POP:
- POP is somewhat simpler to manage. If you see a message, it is on your computer.
- You can view all of your messages even if you are not connected to the internet.
- More software supports the POP protocol.
POP is often best if you are only going to view the messages from a single computer and your Internet connection is not always available.
- If you download a message it is only available on that computer.
- You cannot access your account if someone else is accessing it at the same time.
I access my mail from four different computers (home, work, laptop, smartphone), and occasionally via webmail. In order to have a consistent perspective on my messages, I use IMAP exclusively.
No matter which method you choose, it's a good idea to figure out what you're doing with backups: