Email: POP, IMAP or Exchange?

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What is the difference between POP, IMAP and Exchange?

We have all been using emails for as long as we can remember. But do you know what type of email protocol you are using? Do you know how it all works? It is a good idea to find out what you have, especially if you wish to change how you are accessing them.

These three methods (protocols) enables users to gain access to their email. Each protocol (POP, IMAP and Exchange) downloads messages from the mail server onto a device. Access to these messages is then achieved by applications such as Apple Mail and Microsoft Outlook, just to name a few. But that is where the similarities end.



This stands for Post Office Protocol.
Using POP accounts is great for those that access their email from one computer and backup their hard drive on a regular basis. This is because your messages are immediately downloaded to your device and as a result is then no longer maintained on the mail server. Thus your actions will not be replicated between devices. For example, when you create and organise folders on one device, this action will not appear on other devices.

Screenshot of Inbox hyperlink



Stands for Internet Message Access Protocol.
The messages live on both the server and device/s. It gives users the ability to quickly access the messages from any device and any actions (reading, filing, replying, deleting) will be replicated between all the configured devices.
This means that users with IMAP will see that their email account will synchronise the content between the device/s and the email server.
This type of protocol is great for those who access their email from different devices, such as an iPhone, iPad and iMac.



This protocol is similar to IMAP, but with a few extras. It requires a server supporting Exchange functionality (Exchange, Office365, Kerio). With Exchange, it provides users with a few key extra functionality features, such as synchronisation of calendars and contacts. It also includes better support for mobile phones.

Is it easy to switch from POP to IMAP?

There are a few steps that you will need to take if you are using POP before you can switch to IMAP email protocol.

  1. Backup your email to an external hard drive, this will minimise the risk of misplacing messages.
  2. Once you have created an IMAP account within your mail client, you may need to drag the messages across in order to save them in IMAP.

If you ever find yourself stuck or unsure, it may be best to bring the device into our office in Burnley and we can complete the task for you and even aim to transfer your messages for you.

Migrating To Exchange

Contact us to discuss this, and potentially arrange assistance, as this can be tricky and the method can change depending on the circumstances.