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05 IMAP vs POP (LAN Mail Protocols)




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This article is from the LAN Mail Protocols FAQ, by John Wobus jmwobus@syr.edu with numerous contributions by others.

05 IMAP vs POP (LAN Mail Protocols)

As of this writing (4/97), there are a many more POP than IMAP client
implementations and an Internet Service Provider is much more likely
to provide POP3 service than any kind of IMAP. POP3 is an Internet
Standard whereas IMAP4rev1 as of 2/97 is a Proposed Standard. But
interest in IMAP is growing with big-time software houses announcing
support. IMAP4rev1 has more features, basically designed to support a
model where users store their received mail on a server rather than on
their own computer. The big advantage cited for IMAP is that people
who "do e-mail" from different computers at different times have the
same access to their message store from any of the client-computers
they use. The cost of this model (aside from issues such as the
complexity and the availability of implementations) is in running a
server with sufficient space for the clients' message stores. With
personal computer disks now often above a gigabyte (presumeably
growing to 10s of gigabytes over the next few years) and multimedia
messaging in our future, people storing e-mail on their own hard disk
will have a lot of space and ways to use it. A central store serving
10-20 users will not be overly difficult, but one for 1,000 or 10,000
users will be very large (terabytes?) if it is to offer comparable
space. The question comes down to the tradeoff between the advantage
to users who computer-hop against the costs of managing the large
amount of central store. See also online document imap.vs.pop.html
(reference below) and section below "Issue of Remote Access".

 

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