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Server diff POP3 vs IMAP

Posted on 2015-01-03
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Last Modified: 2015-01-15
Last May my neighbor was having 'delay' problems with her Go Daddy POP3 email account.  They convinced her to move to IMAP.  I got called when she could not get it set up.  Finally got it set up.  Outlook on her portable is setup as IMAP. Her cellphone is IMAP.  The other day she accidentally fired up Outlook on the desktop PC which was not switched to IMAP.  Outlook downloaded 216 messages using a POP3 configuration.   And 216 disappeared from her portable PC InBox and her cellphone.  I understand why.

What surprised me is the POP3 Outlook seemed to function normally.  So, is there a server difference or is IMAP vs POP3 just an interface/access method difference?

Which means I could switch the portable PC back to POP3 with no problem.
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Question by:IBMJunkman
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7 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:Qlemo
ID: 40529669
IMAP mail remains on the server until deleted from the client. All changes on client (delete, move to folder, mark as important, ...) are reflected on the server. So it is the best decision if you need to access the mailbox from different devices.

POP3 is always pulling the email to the client. The mail may or may not remain on the server, depending on POP3 account settings in e.g. Outlook. If you delete a mail, it will always be deleted on the server (if there is still a copy there). If you move the email, mark as read, mark as important, ..., no changes will happen on the server.
Usually POP3 is best if you do not want to have an exact copy on the server to read on another client for frequent access.

In this case IMAP should be used, at least as long as the mail space on the server is not too restricted to allow enough mails to be kept.
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 40529723
multiple clients using the same mail address use IMAP
single client use pop3.

In this scenario with multiple devices you want to use IMAP for all clients.

If your mailbox storage is a problem, in the pop settings you can say leave messages on the server for x days
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Author Comment

by:IBMJunkman
ID: 40529757
When she moved to IMAP Go Daddy wanted a bit more money.  I assume it is for storage.  It seems she could go back to POP3 by just deleting the IMAP account from Outlook and creating a POP3 one.  

For business reasons she needs a local copy of email on the portable.  Which means she moves messages to a local PST on a regular basis.  Under POP3 she understood that mail received on the phone was still on the server to be downloaded to Outlook when she fired it up and that the mail would still be on the phone.  For some reason she just does not get how IMAP works.

I use POP3 with a desktop, Android phone and an iPad.  It has come in handy knowing that an email I have on the iPad and then downloaded to the desktop was still on the iPad when I deleted it from the PC.
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Expert Comment

by:Qlemo
ID: 40530139
"when I deleted it from the PC" - exactly that is the issue - you have to delete the mail twice, if you really mean to do. If you apply decisions to have mails only on iPad and others only on PC, then you are fine with having unrelated copies on each.

A good example are EE email notifications. We get mails for
(1) questions we have defined a search for with email notif
(2) questions we monitor or participate
(3) neglected questions
I view those on 2 PCs (Office and Home) and a tablet, sometimes also on phone.
As soon as I have processed a mail (answering a question, dismissing the comment, or just read what has been posted by other Experts), I delete the mail. This is reflected on each device I use, because I use IMAP. With POP3 it would get really confusing to keep track when switching devices.
With IMAP, if you want to keep a local copy, you are free to copy the mail into a different, local or non-local account (in Outlook even a local PST file).

Deleted mails will be in the Deleted folder of IMAP, btw. And hence still accessible from everywhere.
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Author Comment

by:IBMJunkman
ID: 40543471
Thanks for all the usage info.  But my question stands.  Is there a server difference between IMAP and POP3.  

So far it appears I could switch between the 2 interface methods with no problem.  Meaning GoDaddy does not need to know which method is used.
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Accepted Solution

by:
Qlemo earned 250 total points
ID: 40543481
Both are different services, even if they use the same data base. If both works, it does not matter in regard of the ISP. Most allow both, and just limit the overall amount of mail space occupied.
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Assisted Solution

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 250 total points
ID: 40543579
There can be a server difference but most email servers offer both protocols. Be glad that you're not limited to telnet like some of us codgers remember
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