To be honest, for many people the default settings of their e-mail account is the perfect solution for their workflow. Most clients today offer the ability to pick and choose how their mail is delivered and the setup is done upon initial account activation. For those using a web-based e-mail system, like MSN Live or Gmail, however, determining if IMAP or POP is the right way to go is an important choice to make. Which will help your workflow the best?
POP Gives You Instant E-mail Access Almost Anywhere
POP, which is the Post Office Protocol, does essentially what a post office does: deliver messages. You’ll get messages at your preferred location, including your mobile device, but most POP settings don’t allow for these messages to be stored on a server. When you get a message, you must store it locally. You can change your POP settings to put copies of a message on an e-mail server, but not always. That means if something happens to your computer or mobile device, you’re going to lose all your e-mails.
IMAP, on the other hand, is a server-based e-mail system. As long as you can connect to the internet and provide your username and password, you’ve got access to your e-mails. When you read or respond to a message, the e-mail is then temporarily downloaded to your local device until you’ve completed your tasks. Then the local storage is cleared and your storage remains intact.
It’s All About How You Interact With Your E-mail
If you don’t regularly check your e-mail and you don’t need to immediately respond to things or look at pictures or attachments, then IMAP could be perfect for you. This is especially the case if you have a high speed broadband connection and you find yourself switching devices all the time. On the other hand, a POP setting is often better for people who are always in their e-mail, downloading images and attachments, and using it as essentially an online file storage system.
For the average user, the small differences between IMAP and POP aren’t even generally noticed. The only problem with POP generally comes when you’ve got massive attachments in multiple e-mails that are stored locally on a small capacity device. If you’ve got tons of apps and games on your mobile device, as well as a massive e-mail file storage system, then you might encounter storage problems on a 8GB device.
Should I Go With One or the Other?
There’s nothing that says you must stay dedicated to one delivery system or the other. Try both of them out, see which one works well for you, and then stick with it as long as it continues to work well for you. It’s extremely easy to change the settings within your e-mail account and both allow you to easily access the information you need. As long as you don’t need to maintain your e-mail much or consistently change the settings, your e-mail is good.