Difference between POP3, IMAP, and Webmail

Each email account you configure on your domain name can be accessed using three different methods. Webmail, IMAP, POP3. The differences between each method are discussed below.


IMAP is an especially convenient method of reading email if you use multiple computers. If you check your email on one machine at work and a different one at home, possibly also a laptop for travel, or you use public PCs in a library or computer lab, then the IMAP connection is likely the connection for you.

Like POP3, mail is delivered to a central server, but the mail client (Outlook, Thunderbird, Vista Mail) does not copy it all at once and then delete it from the server. It's more of an interactive model, where the user can ask to view all messages or messages meeting certain criteria. Messages on the central server can be marked with various status flags (e.g. "deleted" or "answered"), moved to folders either on a local computer or on the server, and they stay on the server until explicitly removed by the user. This way the messages can be viewed from other computers until they are marked for deletion or downloaded to a folder on a computer.

IMAP leaves the messages on the server. It only downloads enough information about the message to display it in your email client on your computer. This is what makes it convenient if you use multiple computers as the email is always accessible because it remains on the Shoppe Pro mail server.


POP3 is designed to support "offline" mail processing. POP3 works best if you use a single computer all the time. When using POP3, mail is delivered to a central server, and the user uses a mail "client" program (Eudora, Outlook, Netscape Messenger, etc.) that connects to the server and downloads all of the pending mail to the user's own machine. Thereafter, all mail processing is local to the personal computer. Once delivered to your computer, the messages are deleted from the mail server (unless you configure your client to temporarily leave your mail on the server.) One of the chief virtues of offline access is that it is less dependent on server resources (meaning less time needed to stay connected to the internet.) However, with pop3 email your email will not be accessible on the server once you have downloaded it to your computer unless specifically configured in the email client. This means that you will not be able to check your email remotely.

The leaving mail on server option in a POP3 system is designed to be a temporary central storage location when using multiple machines. An example of an appropriate use of this feature would be setting your local POP3 client to leave mail on server at work and setting you home PC to not leave the mail on server thus allowing you to view your mail at work, but always store your mail at home. Leaving mail on server in a POP3 system is not designed to be a permanent message storage location.


WebMail offers complete access to your mail without any mail being downloaded to your computer. You access your mail with your web browser from any computer connected to the internet at any time. You have the ability to read mail, send mail, make folders for storage, reply, forward, etc. You can also configure rules, setup additional spam filtering, add contacts, and many of the same things you can do in an email client, but all online through a web browser. Since your mail is never downloaded to a computer, the method is ideal for use on public computers. It is convenient for someone who seldom uses the same computer to access mail.

You can access your webmail email account with Shoppe Pro by typing yourdomain.com/webmail into any web browser. 
Note: some disadvantages to webmail (vs desktop IMAP/POP clients) are: takes longer to access messages, few advanced features, inability to read or compose mail off-line.

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