IMAP or POP, Pros/Cons?


I just set up six e-mail DreamHost accounts in my Mac Mail, three POP and three IMAP. I noticed that the IMAP accounts have their own separate folders, which seems like it might be a nice way to keep my e-mail organized.

Are there any problems with IMAP versus POP? Any advantages with IMAP or POP? I’ve read some people saying that with IMAP you can access the e-mail on the server, and delete unwanted messages directly from the server.

I can do that with POP accounts too! So what are the pros and cons with IMAP versus POP? Thanks.

– vja4Him


I don’t think that there are any major pros or cons to either method. You’re still hooking up to the samer server at dreamhost, just using different protocols. I think it all comes down to personal preference.

Generally pop3 clients can be set to store the messages in whatever folder you want, so even if the default is to dump all three addresses into the same inbox, you should be able to change this.

Imap messages are traditionally stored only on your mail server. It’s kinda like having a program on your computer(s) that acts like webmail. It doesn’t matter where you hook up to your E-mails: home computer, public terminal through webmail, or an office computer with Thunderbird - all ofyour E-mails will be there, and if you read the E-mail at home it will be marked as read everywhere else.

So if you got a bunch of Junk mail, had your home computer filter it out to only the real messages, then when you log onto webmail from work later that morning you’ll only have the real E-mail messages, then junk won’t still be there as it would with pop3.

You can accomplish a similiar thing with pop3 by haiving your E-mail client leave a copy on the server. But if you delete an E-mail or read a few, they will all still be on your server when you log into webmail.

Imap normally requires a constant connection to the internet though. I know thunderbird can be confiugred to store a copy of the messages on your computer so you can access off-line. But for the most part if you’re using imap you’ll want to be on-line. That one may or may not be an issue for you.

I think those are the basics anyways. I use imap because I dual boot my system and access E-mial from public terminals on a regular basis. I also have thunderbid at home keep a backup of all my E-mails encase I loose my intenret connection or dreamhost has some data loss.

Hope that’s helpful.

–Matttail - personal website


Thanks for your input mattail. I would need to be able to download my e-mail to my computer. How would I do that? Do I need to get Thunderbird, or another application … ?

– vja4Him


Yes, to use POP3 you’ll need a POP3 compliant mail client to download your email. Just like IMAP, you’ll need an IMAP compliant mail client (there are web based IMAP clients), but IMAP keeps your email on the server.

Thunderbird, Eudora, Outlook Express, Claris Emailer (if you can find it!), The Bat! are all examples of email clients that can do POP3.

I recommend The Bat!. It’s small, simple and FAST.

yerba# rm -rf /etc