Difference Between IMAP and POP3

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

The difference Between IMAP and POP3 is that the internet message access protocol is more flexible and complex than post office protocol 3 Both IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) and POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) are MAA (Message accessing agent).

Difference Between IMAP and POP3 PDF

Here, we will briefly explain IMAP and POP3, and then we will discuss and explain the complete exploration of the difference between IMAP and POP3. Further, we will look into some more differences in several parameters below.

Difference Between IMAP and POP3

IMAP and POP3 are both related to the emails received on the server. These protocols retrieve messages from the mail server to the receiver’s system. Both protocols are attributed to spam and virus filters.

Key Differences Between IMAP and POP3



IMAP’s more advanced protocol allows you to see all the folders on the mail server.

POP3 protocol only allows downloading messages from your Inbox to your local computer.

IMAP’s server listens on port 143, and the IMAP with SSL secure(IMAPDS) server listens on port 993.

This POP server listens on port 110, and the POP with SSL secure(POP3DS) server listens on port 995.

In this server, messages can be accessed across several devices

In POP3’s server, the mail can only be accessed from a single device simultaneously.

In this server, the mailing content can be read partially before downloading.

For reading the mail, POP3 has to be downloaded on the local device.

In IMAP, the user can maintain the emails on the mail server.

In POP3, the user can not maintain mail directly in the mailbox of the mail server.

The user can generate, delete or rename an email over the mail server.

The user can not generate, delete or rename email over the mail server.

The changes made over the server or system are made on the other side, too, and it is Bi-directional

The changes made on a system do not affect the content on the server, which is unidirectional.

Email sync allows a user.

Email sync is not allowed for a user.

The IMAP server is slower as compared to POP3.

The POP3 server is fast.

Before downloading, a user can search the mail content for a specific string.

Without downloading a mail user can not search the content to the local system.

Multiple unnecessary copies of the message are stored at the mail server, in the case of lost messages on a local server, the mail can still be retrieved

In this server, there are two modes: keep mode and delete mode. The mail remains saved in the mailbox after retrieval in keep mode, and the mail is deleted from the mailbox after retrieval in delete mode.

The Message header can be viewed before downloading.

All the messages are downloaded at once.


The IMAP protocol is considered better than the POP3 protocol for multi-device operations. The changes made on the web interface or on email by IMAP, the software stays in sync with the server, whereas in POP3, changes in the mail can be done using local email software.

What is IMAP?

The term IMAP stands for Internet Access Message Protocol. It is an email protocol that manages and retrieves email messages from the receiving server. Since internet access message protocol(IMAP) is used in message retrieval, it is not possible to use the IMAP protocol to send an email. Instead, IMAP is used for receiving messages from a mail server via a TCP/IP connection.

Originally it was developed in 1986, and its fourth revision occurred in the early 1990s. One can interchangeably use IMAP with IMAP4- with the latter not very common.

What is POP3?

POP3 stands for Post Office Protocol Version 3, an application layer protocol that email clients use to retrieve email from the mail servers over TCP/IP network. Earlier, Post Office Protocol was designed to transfer the messages from the server to the local disk, but now version 3 has the option of leaving the same copy on the server.

POP3 is an easy protocol to implement, but this limits its usage. Example: POP3 supports only one mail server for an individual mailbox. This has now been made outmoded by modern protocols like IMAP.

Related GATE Notes
Difference Between Ram and Rom Difference between rational and irrational numbers
Difference between IoT and M2M Difference between unique and primary key
Difference between XML and HTML Difference Between Primary and Secondary Memory
Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium