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What Are POP3 and IMAP4?
By Chris De Herrera, Copyright 2000
Revised May 8, 2000
As published on Microsoft's Website

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What are the protocols used to connect your Inbox to your ISP's e-mail server -- or to your company's network e-mail server? There are two; and they offer different capabilities that may enhance the way you receive and send e-mail on your Pocket PC.

Using Inbox to Get E-mail

Each time you get your e-mail using Inbox, you are using an Internet standard protocol to retrieve your e-mail from the mail server. This protocol defines the Inbox features and capabilities, and how you interact with your mail server. The Pocket PC supports both POP3 (Post Office Protocol version 3) and IMAP4 (Internet Message Access Protocol version 4) protocols for retrieving e-mail. Once you dial your ISP or corporate network to access e-mail, these protocols facilitate the download. Let's look at what POP3 and IMAP4 really are, and what they offer you.

What Is the POP3 Protocol?

The POP3 protocol provides the ability to download e-mail messages to your Pocket PC. You can control whether the whole message is downloaded, or whether the messages are then deleted off your e-mail server. You can compose messages offline and send them. However, you cannot synchronize your e-mail directly with your mail server. In addition, POP3 does not support multiple folders for e-mail. All e-mail is received in the same folder.

For information on using this protocol, read the article about configuring your e-mail client for POP3. You can learn more about the POP3 Internet protocol definition in RFC (Request for Comment) 1081.

What Is the IMAP4 Protocol?

The IMAP4 protocol provides the ability to download e-mail messages to your Pocket PC. You can control whether e-mail messages are synchronized with your mail server. You can choose to store e-mail in separate folders, and you can select whether or not to synchronize a specific folder. You can even, if you wish, download mail one message at a time.

To find out how to use this protocol, read the article about configuring your e-mail client for IMAP4. You can also read the definition of the IMAP4 Internet protocol in RFC 2060.

Which One Should I Use?

Most ISPs support POP3 mail access; however, some offer IMAP4 support. For corporate users, you need to ask your network administrator which protocols your network supports. If you are using Microsoft® Exchange 5.5, you can configure it to support either POP3 or IMAP4, or both.

Microsoft offers a white paper called Connecting Microsoft Exchange to the Internet that explains how to configure Exchange 5.5. I recommend that you use IMAP4 to access your e-mail whenever possible. IMAP4 offers more features and faster access to mail, and more control over what you receive and store on your Pocket PC.
 

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