POP vs. IMAP vs. Webmail vs. Cloud Webmail Server

infob_image_1926_1662Did you know that one in every five individuals on earth sends emails on a regular basis? The importance of technologies like webmail server, cloud webmail server and email protocols in sustaining the viability of industries like business, education, and service, among others, cannot then be overlooked.

But not all email technologies are created equal. In this article, we shall discuss the characteristics, merits and demerits of four email technologies, namely, POP, IMAP, webmail and cloud mail.

POP Characteristics

Post Office Protocol (POP) is the original email protocol created in 1984 for downloading emails from a remote server and for permanent local storage. The POP workflow then involves connecting to the server, retrieving all emails, storing locally the emails as new mail, and deleting mail from server, and disconnecting. Most POP clients, however, provide the option of leaving a copy of the downloaded mail on the remote server.

POP has the following advantages:

• Emails are stored locally, thus, these are always accessible even without Internet connection, said connection of which is only necessary when sending and receiving new messages

• Server storage space can be maximised

• Multiple email accounts and email servers can be consolidated into a single inbox

POP is suitable for individuals and organisations that want easy and constant access to emails from a single device regardless of Internet availability and that require optimum use of limited server storage space.

IMAP Characteristics

Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), designed in 1986, was created to allow remote access to emails stored on a remote server. As a form of cloud storage, it leaves emails on the server and then temporarily stores – the industry term is “caches” – these messages locally.

The MAPI Mail Server workflow can then be summarized as: Connect the webmail server, fetch the user-requested content and locally caches it, process the user edits (i.e., mark the emails as read, delete, and reply), and then disconnect.

The idea is to allow multiple users to manage the same email inbox from various computers with the following advantages arising :

• Email can be accessed from multiple different locations

• Faster overview of emails since only the headers are downloaded until the user decides to explicitly request for the content

• Email has appropriate support when the cloud webmail server is properly managed

Between POP and IMAP, experts recommend choosing IMAP because it is the more modern email protocol that allows for a greater range of functionality and flexibility.

Webmail Characteristics

Webmail is an email service that utilises a web browser in viewing, sending and receiving, and editing and deleting emails from any Internet-connected computer including smartphones and tablets anytime, anywhere. The webmail server makes all of these activities possible, thus, the popularity of the email protocol across several industries.

Users can maximise webmail in two ways, namely:

• Getting fast, easy and secure access to current email regardless of location and time for as long as the personal computing device has Internet connection

• Enjoying multiple email accounts for several individuals

As webmail obviously requires a webmail server, the emails are always available for their users since these electronic messages are stored on the World Wide Web. Its advantages can then be summarised as:

• Greater privacy since webmail is a private email account

• Better convenience because changing Internet Service Providers will not affect the permanent email accounts and because the emails can be easily accessed via Internet-connected devices

• More effective management of email accounts from a single interface

• More useful features like attachments, address books, and vacation replies

The webmail server makes all of these benefits possible. It is, in fact, one of the most popular email management protocols in the world today because of these merits.

Cloud Mail Characteristics

Cloud-hosted email accounts provide for the benefits of free email accounts, branding of domain name, and cost efficiency as well as continuous availability but all of the information on the emails is hosted on the cloud webmail server, thus, making their contents essentially at its disposal.

Which of these email methods is the best? We suggest webmail, of course, because of its superior benefits in comparison with POP, IMAP and cloud mail.

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