IMAP or POP3: What's the difference?

When you set up a new e-mail account in your e-mail client, you have to choose between IMAP or POP3. To help you make the right decision, here are the main differences between the two e-mail protocols.

First off: An IMAP account is preferable in most cases.

     IMAP and POP3 are e-mail protocols that your e-mail program (e.g. Outlook, Thunderbird ...) uses to communicate with the server. They are the method used to download e-mails from the server.

IMAP vs. POP3 at a glance


  • Access to e-mails from multiple devices (PC, Smartphone ...).
  • E-mails remain on the server. The e-mail client loads a copy of the e-mails.
  • Folders (Sent, Recycle Bin ...) get synchronized.
  • We can create daily backups of your e-mails.


  • Emails can only be managed by one device.
  • E-mails are downloaded by the e-mail client and are no longer available on the server.
  • No synchronization of folders.
  • Possible loss of e-mails in case of a defective hard disk.

What is IMAP?

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is an e-mail protocol that allows users to access their e-mails. E-mails are stored on the e-mail server of the hosting provider.

The biggest advantage is that via IMAP you can access your e-mails from multiple devices. All folders of your e-mail account get synchronized. If you send an e-mail from your smartphone, it will also end up in the "Sent" folder on your PC. You can see on all devices whether an e-mail has already been read or answered. You remain flexible and can manage your e-mails at any time, regardless of your location.

Since e-mails are stored directly on the server, it is possible that you might exceed your storage limit.

Some facts:

  • E-mail storage location is on the server.
  • E-mails are accessible on multiple devices (synchronization of all folders and the current status of an e-mail, e.g. unread, answered).
  • E-mail backup on the server.
  • Storage limit can be exceeded.

IMAP Port SSL encrypted: 993

POP3 - what does it mean?

POP3 stands for "Post Office Protocol Version 3". It is a widely used protocol for downloading e-mail and authenticating users. As an older application protocol, it is increasingly being replaced by IMAP.

A POP3 mail account serves as a mailbox for your e-mail address which can only be managed by one device. You can choose whether or not e-mails remain on the server. However, there is no synchronization between an e-mail account and the local device. E-mails are downloaded from the inbox of the server and use up local storage.

You have to tell your e-mail client (e.g. Outlook, Thunderbird ...) which POP3 account it should access. To do this, you have to tell it your server address (post office) and the POP3 account (mailbox). The e-mail address becomes unique through this combination of server and POP3 account. There are no server addresses or user IDs with the same name.

Some facts:

  • Incoming e-mails are downloaded and stored locally.
  • Usage only on one device.
  • Only local backup of e-mails possible. Potential loss of e-mails in case of defective end device.
  • Requires little storage space on the server.

POP3 Port SSL encrypted: 995

Is there a difference between setting up an IMAP or POP3 e-mail account?

Setting up an IMAP account almost does not differ from setting up a POP3 account. To set IMAP as the default incoming mail server, you only need to select IMAP as the account type during setup. IMAP accounts are supported by most e-mail programs.

How to set up an e-mail account