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Differences between POP3 and IMAP

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POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) both are MAA (Message accessing agent), both of these protocols are used to retrieve messages from the mail server to the receivers system. Both of these protocols are accounted for spam and virus filters. IMAP is more flexible and complex than POP3. 

Difference Between POP3 and IMAP : 

Post Office Protocol (POP3) Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP)
POP is a simple protocol that only allows downloading messages from your Inbox to your local computer. IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is much more advanced and allows the user to see all the folders on the mail server.
The POP server listens on port 110, and the POP with SSL secure(POP3DS) server listens on port 995 The IMAP server listens on port 143, and the IMAP with SSL secure(IMAPDS) server listens on port 993.
In POP3 the mail can only be accessed from a single device at a time. Messages can be accessed across multiple devices
To read the mail it has to be downloaded on the local system. The mail content can be read partially before downloading.
The user can not organize mails in the mailbox of the mail server. The user can organize the emails directly on the mail server.
The user can not create, delete or rename email on the mail server. The user can create, delete or rename an email on the mail server.
It is unidirectional i.e. all the changes made on a device do not affect the content present on the server. It is Bi-directional i.e. all the changes made on the server or device are made on the other side too.
It does not allow a user to sync emails. It allows a user to sync their emails.
It is fast. It is slower as compared to POP3. 
A user can not search the content of mail before downloading it to the local system. A user can search the content of mail for a specific string before downloading.

It has two modes: delete mode and keep mode.

In delete mode, the mail is deleted from the mailbox after retrieval.

In keep mode, the mail remains in the mailbox after retrieval.

Multiple redundant copies of the message are kept at the mail server, in case of loss of message of a local server, the mail can still be retrieved
Changes in the mail can be done using local email software. Changes made to the web interface or email software stay in sync with the server.
All the messages are downloaded at once. The Message header can be viewed prior to downloading.


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Last Updated : 19 Jan, 2023
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