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Email POP and IMAP questions

Posted on 2016-10-01
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Last Modified: 2016-10-02
Hello Everyone,

I am trying to understand how pop and Imap account work. Several people gave me different answers and now they confused me.

I am going to write a statement and please can someone tell me if it is accurate before i misinform one of my client.

POP account doesn't synchronize emails. IMAP account synchronize emails between multiple devices because the emails are stored in the server.
POP account is created an email account on the local PC and the email accounts are stored on a PST file.
IMAP account is created on the server and the local email account created on the local PC uses OST file.

are these statements correct ?  am i understanding this right ?
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Question by:Italiabella
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by:John Hurst
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POP3 downloads your email to a local PST file. You can set it to leave mail on the server or delete mail on the server. But the mail is on your local PC.

You can use POP3 on two computers (I do) but you have to be aware of which computer is going to delete email from the server.

IMAP keeps mail on the server and caches a local copy on the PC. You can also download IMAP onto a PST file if you wish. Some people like IMAP because it can be used from any computer. That is indeed a benefit.

I prefer POP3 and have my computer wherever I go.

Even with POP3 an iPhone, Android, or Blackberry uses IMAP. I use an iPhone. That does not interfere with my POP3 setup on my PC.
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by:Italiabella
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this client as a Comcast email setup in Outlook 2016. The email has been setup using POP. She told me that when she deletes emails from her iPhone it doesn't delete also the emails on her Outlook account. does this make sense ?
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by:Jason
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Yeah, that makes sense. POP3 downloads the mail to her computer. So if she then deletes it from her iPhone it would still be on her computer.

If she was using IMAP for everything, when she deleted it on her iPhone it would disappear on her computer.
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by:Dr. Klahn
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POP3 also offers an optional interface to synchronize mail via the XTND XLST command, and send mail via the XTND XMIT command.  They are not widely used.

POP account is created an email account on the local PC and the email accounts are stored on a PST file.
IMAP account is created on the server and the local email account created on the local PC uses OST file.

Both POP and IMAP are ways of accessing email accounts on a server, so the actual account exists on the server.  What exists on the local computer is a program with a data file which is partial replication of the contents of the associated email account on the server.  It is a fine point, but I believe necessary.  Only the server has the actual account, but there can be many partial replications of the contents on various computers running email readers.
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by:rindi
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There are no such things as "POP accounts" or "IMAP accounts". Your email account is with the email server you have registered with. POP and IMAP are just the protocols used by your PC's email Client to get the email from that server. POP is outdated and old, but some MAIL providers have still not setup their servers to provide IMAP. One of the biggest advantages of IMAP over POP is that with IMAP you can access the different mail folders of your account on the server, while with POP you can only see the inbox on the server.

For example those Mail servers I have mail accounts with, also include a webmail client, so I can access those servers directly with Firefox and don't need a separate mail client on my PC. Now using the Web Client I can setup folders like "Experts-Exchange", and then create rules that automatically moves all messages from Experts-Exchange to that folder rather than keep them in the inbox. That makes the mailbox more organized.

If you setup my email client on my PC (for example Thunderbird) to collect mail from the server using the POP protocol, I will only be able to see the inbox, and not the other folders I created there, like Experts-Exchange etc. On the other hand, if I setup Thunderbird to collect the mails via the IMAP protocol, I can see all those folders I created on the server, including Experts-Exchange.

Whether your mail gets downloaded and deleted on the server is not a function of the protocol. That is rather done by settings in your email client program. But most of those programs, when you setup POP will automatically use a default setting to download and delete the mails on the server, while if you setup IMAP, the default is usually just the opposite, messages stay on the server. This may have something to do with the age of the two protocols. Since POP was used since the early days of Email, where server space was low, it made sense to keep as little mail on the server as possible or else your limits were exceeded. So the default setting for such an old protocol would be logical to delete the messages once downloaded. IMAP is a much more modern protocol, and today's email providers usually allow you a lot more space on the server. So here the default setting to keep your email on the server also makes sense. After all, then you don't have to worry about backing up your messages yourself.
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by:John Hurst
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She told me that when she deletes emails from her iPhone it doesn't delete also the emails on her Outlook account. does this make sense ?  

Mail should be deleted from the Server, but it will not be deleted from her PST file.

Check in Web Mail if the server mail has been deleted.

That is one of the main distinctions between POP3 and IMAP.

POP3 email downloaded to a PST stays in the PST even when Server mail has been deleted.
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by:rindi
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Mail downloaded to a PST file stays there whatever protocol you used to download it. It has nothing whatsoever to do with whether you use IMAP or POP to do the download.

What stays on the server depends on how you setup your EMAIL client, it also has nothing to do with the protocol used. The defaults of the EMAIL client are just different for each protocol, bot normally you can adjust those to something else.
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by:Italiabella
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THank you everyone for confirming what i thought i know. I am on the right track, she pulled out a bunch of written info by some tech guy and she really confused me.

and obviously he doesn't have the technical knowledge to judge which statement is correct. Now i know clearly that in order to delete her emails from multiple devices she must setup an IMAP account. She didn't believed me she said that before it was happening, she was setup with POP and she was able to do delete her emails from her iPhone and that email was also disappearing from her computer ? Which didn't make any sense to me....
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by:John Hurst
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If the person sets up as IMAP, no PST file, and deletes mail on the server, that will delete email in the OST file.
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by:rindi
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In order to use OST files, you would have to be connected to an Exchange type server, and you wouldn't be using either IMAP or POP then, but rather MAPI. MAPI is the protocol used by M$ in Exchange and outlook. If you setup outlook with MAPI, you can use cached mode on the PC, which means the mails will then be downloaded to the PC and not be only on the exchange server. It used for when you aren't connected to the exchange server and you still need to view your mails. But again, that has nothing to do with either POP or IMAP, it is a completely different protocol. With IMAP and POP you can't configure cached mode inside outlook, and so you won't get an OST file.
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by:Italiabella
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thank you again Rindi and John for this deep clarification. It is very very useful.
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by:Italiabella
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but Rindi look what Dr.Klahn said:

 "IMAP account is created on the server and the local email account created on the local PC uses OST file"

he is saying that the IMAP account uses an OST file....this is why i am so confused....
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by:rindi
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He's wrong. He is probably confusing IMAP with MAPI, they use the same letters but are completely different. MAPI is the legacy protocol used by m$'s exchange server.
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by:Italiabella
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And this is the problem that I am having, many people feel they can advice/recommend without knowing what they are saying. unfortunately may people state what also DR. Klahn states this is why after years of thinking I understood how it works i realized i didn't :(
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by:Italiabella
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So RIndi one more time, i understand POP but what file does IMAP uses to allow the emails to be read on the local PC ?

please tell me one more time..
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by:rindi
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It uses the same files as POP does. On outlook it would use PST files.
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by:John Hurst
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If your PST is open in Outlook while it syncs with IMAP, mail may then be deleted while syncing.

I do not like the tie between my server and my PST file, so I use POP3 and keep my mail safe. It works vastly better this way, has done for 2 decades, and I take my computer everywhere so I do not need someone else's computer to do my email.
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by:rindi
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Mail that is local on your PC doesn't get deleted when you are using IMAP and outlook is syncing. If it does that, then there's something wrong with Outlook or it's settings. Maybe get a better EMail client, like Thunderbird. IMAP really works a lot better and there are only advantages when compared to POP. POP is just an ancient protocol and it misses many features which IMAP includes.
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by:Italiabella
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ok so both POP and IMAP configuration use PST file on the local computer to store emails

instead exchange servers uses OST

are my statement finally correct ?
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by:Italiabella
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:) rindi now you open another doubt :) i thought that if i sync her Comcast email with outlook using IMAP, one she deletes the email on her IPhone the Email will also be deleted on Outlool on her local pc and this is what also John was confirming. it is not the case ?
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rindi earned 250 total points
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Yes, with POP and IMAP outlook uses PST files. For exchange OST, if caching is enabled.

If someone deletes a message on the server using either IMAP or POP, and that message hasn't yet been downloaded to your PC in outlook, of course it wouldn't be able to download it anymore, as it doesn't exist on the server for downloading anymore. But if it was already downloaded on the PC before it was deleted, it shouldn't get deleted on the PC, unless something is wrong with Outlook or it's settings. Besides that, normally if you delete a message on the server, it goes into it's recycle bin (unless you delete it directly). So if you are using IMAP, you can still see the message in the server's recycle bin. If you are using POP, you wouldn't be able to view the recycle bin on the server as it can only access it's inbox.
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by:John Hurst
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IMAP will sync with your Outlook including deletions. So if your user wishes email to be retained on a permanent basis and not keep all the same email in IMAP, then use POP3.

I use POP3 and I archive so I have gigabytes of old mail going back to 1996. On my always large hard drives, it is insignificant to keep so no point in deleting it.

We all have different ways of using email. I am just posting how it works for me.
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by:Italiabella
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Thank you everyone.
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by:John Hurst
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You are very welcome and I am always pleased to assist you.
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