There are two different protocols that can be used to access your email with programs like Outlook, Thunderbird, Mac Mail, or Eudora. These programs will ask if you want to use POP3 or IMAP when you're setting up a new email account.

1. POP3

POP3 (Post Office Protocol) stores email on the server until you download it with your email program. Once this happens, they are no longer available on the server. You can configure your program to leave a copy of those email messages on the server for a period of time or indefinitely if you so desire.

POP3 is a good choice if you check your mail from one computer and don't want copies. It's faster and you can read and organize your email on your own system. Another way of thinking of POP3 is that you download the original message to your computer and leave copies on the server if you've configured your program to do so. If you do use multiple programs or platforms, POP3 is still a good choice but please note that each program that accesses a POP3 email account will need to be configured appropriately or one will override all others. POP3 is the most popular protocol and we recommend it for most users.


IMAP (Internet Messaging Access Protocol) stores email messages on the server. This is advantageous for those that read email from different locations and different platforms such as a desktop, laptop, iPhone, Blackberry, or cell phone. IMAP will fill your quota faster since email will remain on the server unless you physically delete messages.

Because IMAP intrinsically leaves email on the server, there is no option to configure in your email program and one program can't override settings on another. You can either access email directly from the server or download copies to your program. Another way of thinking of IMAP is that the original email remains on the server while you download copies.

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