IMAP vs POP3 Outlook : A Detailed Comparison

IMAP and POP3 are the two email connection protocols used to access email. Both have advantages and disadvantages associated with them and suitable in different conditions. As Microsoft Outlook is the most famous email client among the users. Therefore, users are continuously querying about IMAP vs POP3 Outlook account. Thus, in this post, we have discussed what is the exact difference between IMAP and POP3 account? Which one is better for your account?

Difference Between IMAP and POP3 for Outlook

IMAP (Internet Messaging Access Protocol) POP3 (Post Office Protocol)
IMAP was first designed in 1986 to permit remote access to emails messages saved on a remote server to the users. POP3 was designed in 1984 with a purpose of downloading emails from a remote server.
IMAP is basically a cloud storage, which leaves messages on the server and just caches (temporarily stores) them locally. POP3 main aim is to download emails from the remote server and store them on the permanent local storage machine
If a user is using IMAP account, then he/ she can access Outlook mailbox from the multiple remote devices such as computers, mobile, etc. to check emails If a user is using POP3 account for MS Outlook, then one can use only one single computer to check the emails.
In the case of IMAP account internet connection is must to access mailbox. In the case of POP 3 account internet connection is required only for sending & receiving emails.
Internet Messaging Access Protocol saves lots of local storage space as it stores data on cloud. Post Office Protocol saves server storage space as all data is stored locally on the computer.
If the Outlook account is configured with IMAP then all Sent mail remains on the server and you can see it from any available device. However, when it comes to the account configured with POP3, the Sent mail is stored on the local storage machine only, not on a mail server

Outlook IMAP or POP3 : Which is Better?

  • Outlook POP3 Account : If the Outlook is configured with POP3 account, then all data in the Inbox folder of the webmail account is downloaded in the Outlook. The main purpose of POP3 account is to download the emails only, therefore, no changes are updated back to the server or computer, which are made locally. Moreover, messages that are marked as read, will be downloaded as unread in Microsoft Outlook.
    Earlier, messages deleted from the server as they are downloaded and collected in Outlook. From MS Outlook 2010, there are some changes in the default settings. After downloading, the message is kept on server for 14 days. One can change these settings also based on their choice.
    Point to Remember : POP3 accounts data only exists on the local system.If a user is having a large amount of data in size and needs to work on one computer only, then always choose POP3 instead of IMAP account for MS Outlook.
  • Outlook IMAP Account : If Outlook is configured as an IMAP account, all data that is maintained in the webmail account is cached. And because of an IMAP account always there is an active synchronization takes place between Outlook data and webmail account. Due to this all folders that are on webmail are now also there in Outlook.
    In IMAP, the synchronization relation means that any changes made in Outlook also get uploaded to the server and other devices configured with the same IMAP account. It includes Sent Items, deletions & the Read or Unread status of the messages.
    Point to Remember : Syncing is not like having a backup. If a message gets removed from any device or computer, it also get deleted from the server and any other synced device.If a user always uses multiple devices for work and have lots of online mailbox storage space, then it is advised to use IMAP over POP3 for MS Outlook.

The Bottom Line

Both the IMAP and the POP3 are the protocol used for establishing email connection. Both the protocols are supported by many email application such as Apple Mail, Outlook, etc. Therefore, whenever a user needs to configure Outlook account, he/ she gets confused which is better IMAP or POP3? Thus, in this blog, a detailed difference between IMAP or POP3 for Outlook is discussed to make it clear to the user which one is best for them.