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January 25, 2018

Make the Switch to IMAP

Filed under: Main — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:01 am

A few weeks back, I wrote about coordinating email on Android devices. The specific issue is with POP3 email accounts, the kind offered by traditional ISPs. Based on some feedback and research, I have changed my opinion: To put it bluntly, ditch the POP3 account.

POP3 is the Post Office Protocol mail delivery system thing. It’s how ISPs dish up email and was created at a time when you’d have only one device running email software (the “client”). Only that one device would pickup and manage email, which meant that POP3 was pretty dumb.

The IMAP protocol came about later. It’s used by webmail services and, unlike POP3, it’s coordinated. The mail, inbox, other mailboxes, and deleted mail, are all synchronized between the various devices that access your account. This harmony makes the IMAP type of email a better option for humans who use desktops, laptops, and mobile devices in various combinations. Because the email is coordinated, you don’t have to remember to manage or mess with anything.

What does this mean for you?

If you still use a POP3 email account, visit your ISP’s support webpage to discover whether they offer IMAP protocol delivery of email. If so, re-configure your email client (the program you use on your computer) to fetch IMAP email instead of POP3.

Odds are pretty good that if you’ve setup email on a computer in the last few years, you chose the IMAP version of your provider’s email service. Only if you’re a codger like me, who set up email on a computer years ago, you might still be using POP3. Check to be sure.

In your email program on a computer, check the account settings screen. Look up your ISP’s email service and check the server name. If it uses pop3 anywhere in the server address, you’re still using pop3. Follow the directions on the ISP’s email configuration web page to change your email program over to IMAP.

Yes, making this change can be a pain in the rump, but it’s a one-time process. The benefits outweigh any inconvenience. Also, if the steps are too confusing, you can phone the ISP for tech support. They’ll talk you through the steps.

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