What Are Email Server Protocols and Which One Should I Use
Throughout the setup and configuration of your email client, you may have been asked for which protocol your incoming and outgoing mail servers use. Many users may not know what these protocols mean and which one may be best for them to use.
This guide aims to help eliminate any confusion which you may have over these protocols and will help you discover which protocol is best for you to use in your email client.
Incoming Server Protocols
Incoming mail server protocols are used by local email clients to retrieve emails from a remote email server. There are several protocols which are available which have varying features in how they go about retrieving and storing emails which you have been sent.
Post Office Protocol (POP3)
The Post Office Protocol (POP3) is an incoming mail server protocol. There have been several versions of the POP protocol, the most recent and current standard being version 3 (POP3). This incoming mail server protocol has several advantages and disadvantages when compared to alternate protocols.Generally, POP3 is the preferred option if you will be connecting to your email account on a single device.
POP3 uses ports 110 (Unencrypted) or 995 (Encrypted).
- Email’s are stored locally on your PC, meaning that you will have access to received emails without being connected to the internet.
- You may create emails to send without being connected to the internet. These emails will remain in a hold folder and will be sent as soon as an internet connection becomes available.
- Attachments will open faster as they are already available locally on your PC.
- The maximum size of the mailbox is only limited by the size of your hard drive.
- Higher vulnerability to viruses as attachments are downloaded to be stored locally.
- Higher hard drive storage usage as all emails are stored locally.
- If a problem occurs with your PC, the emails stored on it will be affected and you will not be able to recover them.
- Privacy issues may occur as another user may be able to read the messages which have been stored on your PC.
Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP)
The Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) is an incoming mail server protocol. This incoming mail server protocol has several advantages and disadvantages when compared to alternate protocols. Generally, IMAP is the preferred option if you will be connecting to your email account on multiple devices.
IMAP uses the ports 143 (Unencrypted) or 993 (Encrypted).
- Email’s are stored on the email server, meaning that they are accessible from any email client which is connected to your email account.
- IMAP mail folders are synchronised with mail folders on the email server.
- Sent messages and drafts are stored on the email server.
- Can set up email account on multiple devices without having to copy items between them.
- Email’s will load slower, particularly on the first read of the message.
- Subject to storage capabilities of the email server.
- Emails are only available to read and send when connected to the internet.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
Outgoing Server Protocols
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
SMTP uses ports 25 (Unencrypted), 587 (Encrypted TLS) or 465 (Encrypted SSL).
I hope that this guide has helped to clear up any confusion which you may have had over email protocols. Generally, POP3 should be used when you will be connecting to your email account using one device. Additionally, IMAP should be used when you will be connecting to your email account using multiple devices. If you have any questions or would like more clarification over email protocols, please feel free to leave a comment below.