POP and IMAP are both technologies or you can say protocols, through which you can download your emails from mail servers and can access them with your installed email clients. In Laymen terms: These two protocols allow users to access emails from a remote server. And to your notice, this is the only similarity that both these protocols have.
Post Office Protocol or also known as POP primarily help users to download emails to their computer by deleting it from the server.
POP was first developed in 1984 and its primary focus was to let people access their emails on a remote server. In 1985 POP2 was launched with more features and by 1988 POP3 was launched. But all these three versions has one disadvantage and that is, all of these POP versions are a one way protocol.
Whereas IMAP is Internet Message access protocol and let users to store emails and other data on a remote server. This two-way protocol ultimately let users to sync their emails and data on multiple devices like desktop, laptop, mobile and tabs.
|Have to download first to read an email||Don't have to download to read an email (user can partially check their emails even before downloading)|
|Users can only use one system to check their emails||With two-way protocol, users can uses multiple systems to check their emails|
|You emails and sent emails are stored on your local PC||Emails and sent emails get stored on the server. Which makes it easier for users to access it anywhere|
|User doesn't have the power to organize emails in their server||Can organize emails in the mailbox stored in the server|
|Cannot create mailboxes on a mail server||Can create mailboxes stored on a mail server|
|Cannot edit mailboxes on a mail server||Can edit mailboxes stored on a mail server|
|Cannot delete mailboxes on a mail server||Can delete mailboxes stored on a mail server|
|Doesn't allow users to search emails prior to downloading||IMAP provide users with the facility to search specific files before downloading it|
|Faster downloading of all email messages on the server||Slow downloading if compared with POP3|
|DoIs simple with limited functions||Complicated but with more features and functionalities than POP3|
Different email clients have different ways to activate these protocols. You cannot use the same procedure for every mail service:Note: Hotmail doesn't support IMAP hence you will only find POP protocol.
For Gmail Users:Gmail support both IMAP and POP protocols and you can activate it by following the below mentioned step: Go to settings - click on Forwarding - then select POP/IMAP
Being given a chance to choose, I would always go with IMAP. As this protocol, offers a two-way connection making it easier to read, view and even edit emails on the go. Due to this advanced synchronization, I don't have to worry about taking my system everywhere.The only exception is for those users, who hardly checks their emails. If that is the case with you then POP is most suited for you. So tell me what you use?