POP or IMAP?

When you’re using Google Apps you can not only manage your email online with a very powerful online email application, but it’s also possible to do this from just about any device or email client you prefer.

But it provides two ways of doing so: through POP and through IMAP. But which one to pick? What’s the difference between the two?

POP

POP is simply put one-way traffic. You receive emails by downloading whatever comes in on the account. It just grabs everything, depending on your settings everything could be deleted from the server after it’s downloaded and that’s it. Anything you do with it in your client will only be visible in your client. If you store anything in a special folder or if you delete anything, none of these actions will be visible on the server – they happen locally in your email client only.

IMAP

IMAP is two-way traffic. It synchronises the server with the clients. It makes sure that whatever happens in for example Outlook is also visible on your iPhone or when you login to your email through a web browser. If you are reading a message on your mobile phone and you give it a certain label, this will also be visible in your email client on your laptop or any other location where you might deal with your emails.

So which one to pick: POP or IMAP?

In general, you should let this decision depend on the capabilities of your email client. If it can handle IMAP, then this should be the option to go for. We’re increasingly more mobile and almost every mobile device can send and receive emails nowadays. Not only your desktop PC, but also your notebook, netbook, mobile phone, tablet, game console and mp3 player. Try to imagine the hassle when you know you’ve received an email from somebody but you can’t find it anywhere because you don’t remember which device you used when reading this email…

That’s why you want IMAP, because the message will be found on all devices – your email is identical everywhere you look!