IMAP: a window into your mail
IMAP create a master copy of your email is stored on the email server. The software you use is just one window: a view that the warehouse owner.
So when you set up an e-mail program such as Thunderbird (or Outlook, or you love-email-program) to access email via IMAP, or connect your phone or mobile device in your email you (which typically also use IMAP) is the best way to think about what’s really happening is that the program simply shows you what is on the server.
IMAP: Your message stayed on the server
The biggest difference between IMAP menu was with IMAP and POP3, your email is always left on the server to provide services to your email.
If your email provider has a limit how many emails can be retained, and you get a lot of emails, then IMAP may not be for you.
To put it into perspective: as you can imagine, I get a fair amount of email. nearest four years worth of emails in my personal account using a little over 40% in 25 GB storage is provided by Gmail.
Other vendors – notably most ISPs – can not be so generous; but then, you can not get many gigabytes of mail a year as I do. It’s just something to check.
If it is just a glimpse of your email that is stored on the server, why use an email program desktop at all? You can get a look at how to use a web-based interface is easy.
I said the same window concept is the best way to think about it. As with many things on your computer, the reality is considerably more complex.
For example, your email program may very well actually download a copy of all the new email to your computer. I think that is an optimization. Are you still looking for your email because it lives in the archives of the mail server, but your e-mail program has been optimizing the experience by downloading the email so that it can be accessed and displayed quickly than.
In fact, e-mail using IMAP download can be tested off-line, if your email program is configured appropriately. And that’s more or less just like POP3.
But there is an important difference.
the IMAP; move POP3
When your IMAP e-mail load, it is to copy the email on your computer. The original email is still in store owner’s email server to your email; there is simply a copy of it on your computer for quick access and easy. (Or backup, as we shall see in a moment.)
When POP3 downloading your email, on the other hand, it moves the email from the email server to your computer. By default, when the download is complete, the only email residing on the computer where it was downloaded.
This “copy, not move,” the difference between IMAP and POP3 allows something very interesting.
IMAP: Use it on as many devices as you like
Since using IMAP really just a “point” of the original copy of your email is stored on a server … you certainly can have more than one computer opens a look.
In fact, if you have a mobile device to access your email, you can use IMAP already, because it is a default configuration for popular mobile e-mail programs.
Each program uses IMAP to access your email simply keep themselves in sync with the original copy. So if something happens to the master copy – say an email is deleted, or marked as “read” – then the changes will be reflected in all email programs.
Delete a message here, it was removed there. Mark it read there, it will show up as read here: sync across multiple devices.
IMAP: I was referring to the directory?
Unlike POP3, IMAP support folders.
That means that if you create a folder on a computer connected to your email account uses IMAP, then that directory will be visible in all email programs are connected to the e-mail account IMAP.
And, of course, if you move a message into a folder, the message is converted into a folder in all email programs are connected to that account.
The only common point of confusion is Gmail. Gmail really does not support the directory at all, but instead provides equivalent functionality through the use of labels. Check my article how concerning Gmail labels directory? for more info.
IMAP: you can upload
In my opinion, this is an under-appreciated feature of IMAP.
If you put a message in your inbox on a computer that is connected to your email account via IMAP, the message is uploaded and placed in the original copy on the server.
In fact, that is true for any folder, but the mailbox has a special meaning, I think.
That’s what most people want to move when they are changed email providers.
Moving from Yahoo to Gmail? Set up an e-mail program on the computer for each IMAP connection, and simply drag and drop the contents of the old to the new mailbox.
Conceptually, it really is almost as simple.
Use IMAP to backup
Let’s say you access Gmail via the web and through the web. You have everything you need on any computer you happen to use, simply by logging into your Gmail account.
What about backups?
A machine running an email program desktops connected to your email account via IMAP makes a great solution.
In fact, that is exactly what I recommended these days. Most of your email access may be through the web interface of your email provider, but a machine running an email client such as Thunderbird, connect to your account via IMAP, will download email as it appear.
As a backup.
IMAP: best when quickly and connectivity; POP3: Best for slow or intermittent
POP3 email protocols have been developed in the days of dial-up modem and connect periodically.
Connect to the internet, download all your email, and disconnection is a common way of life, especially when no one else can use your phone while you are connected.
IMAP promote faster connection to the internet and more persistent. That is more or less constantly check for updates and the need to synchronize between your computer and the email server repository.
Both will work in both scenarios. POP3 works just fine if you stay connected on a fast connection, and IMAP works if the connection is not always available and synchronized action should be postponed until it is.
But if you are always connected and you’re on something faster than a dial-up modem, IMAP can also make a convenient approach to managing your email on your computer.
Assuming that your email provider supports it, of course, and give you enough space.
IMAP stands for “Internet Message Access Protocol”. That’s a fancy name for a protocol used by email programs such as Outlook, Thunderbird, and others to access your email.
IMAP is an alternative to the POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3), working in a number of fundamentally different way, and make a few different basic assumptions.
I’ll check IMAP, how it compared with POP3, and when you might want to consider using it.
See more: Why does email disappear from my phone?