Anyone who has a computer and Internet access most likely has an email address or maybe more than one. Some people use webmail which means they check their email on a website such as Yahoo or Hotmail. Other people use an email client such as Outlook to have their email downloaded to their computer. But do you know all there is to know about what type of email account you have?

You may have heard the terms POP3 and IMAP relating to types of e-mail accounts. But what are the differences and does one have an advantage over another? Which one should you use? Do you have a choice? Let’s find out.

POP3 (Post Office Protocol) is the most commonly used internet mail protocol. It is easy to configure and use. For awhile it was the only choice you had. There are many POP clients available for virtually every operating system. Examples include Outlook and Eudora. With a POP account you download the mail to your local computer and keep it there. Most of the time it gets deleted off of the mail server after being downloaded. One disadvantage of POP is that once you download it to your computer you won't be able to check your mail from a different computer since it will already be downloaded onto your own computer. It tends to be slower than IMAP as well.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) uses a method where all the mailboxes and messages are maintained on the server. Therefore you can access your e-mail from any location with an internet connection. IMAP is faster than POP because the mail client reads all of the message headers without having to download the entire message. IMAP is also supported in a variety of clients just like POP. One thing to keep in mind is the amount of disk space allocated to your mail on the server may not be enough to hold all of your mail.

POP works best when you are using only a single computer, since you don’t have to worry about checking your e-mail from multiple locations. Plus it is faster as well.

IMAP would suit you better if you need to check your e-mail from multiple locations if you travel a lot. To use IMAP your ISP/mail provider must offer that type of account.

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