Exchange POP3 IMAP: What’s the difference & what am I using?

Understand the differences between Exchange, IMAP and POP3 and find out which protocol you’re using!

 . Email Knowledge  . Exchange POP3 IMAP: What’s the difference & what am I using?

In this article, we will explore the differences between POP3 and IMAP protocols, the benefits of using Microsoft’s Exchange server, how to check your email protocol, and whether you can use MailJerry to migrate your emails. So, let’s dive in and discover more about exchange POP3 IMAP and how they can impact your email management.

POP 3 & IMAP: The Differences

The majority of mail servers worldwide support IMAP and POP3 as methods to access emails. The main difference between the two protocols is that with IMAP, all emails remain on the mail server, whereas POP3 downloads all messages to a local client (e.g. computer, smart phone…).

POP3: Understanding its Limitations

The POP3 protocol has several downsides that can make it challenging for email management. With POP3, emails are downloaded from the mail server to the user’s device and deleted from the server. This means that emails can be lost if the device storing them is lost, damaged, or stolen. There’s no backup of emails stored on the server, and they can’t be accessed from other devices, making it challenging to synchronize email across multiple devices.

Though you can configure POP3 to keep a copy of the message on the mail server, POP3 doesn’t provide real-time email management, making it difficult to manage emails efficiently. Since the protocol only downloads email to the device, changes made on one device won’t be reflected on other devices, leading to inconsistencies. For example, if an email is read on a mobile device using POP3, it won’t be marked as read on a desktop device.

➡️Overall, the limitations of the POP3 protocol can make it challenging to manage emails effectively, especially for people who rely on multiple devices to access their emails.

Access Your Emails Anywhere: The Advantages of Using IMAP

When using IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol), emails are stored on the mail server and can be accessed through various email clients or devices simultaneously. When you read, delete, or move an email on one device, the changes are reflected on all other devices.

By keeping your emails stored on the mail server and updating their status, IMAP provides a simple, comfortable, and secure means of accessing your emails from any location and on an unlimited number of devices.

Even if you experience device mishaps like flushing your phone down the toilet, rolling with your car over your iPad, or tossing your Macbook out of the window, IMAP ensures your emails remain safe.

➡️ Therefore, whenever possible, IMAP should be your preferred protocol.

Reasons to use POP3 anyway:

If you’re faced with storage constraints and have many GBs of emails, you might still opt for POP3 despite its limitations. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that every mailbox has a mail storage limit. If you’re hitting your limit, upgrading your mailbox is a viable solution to consider instead of sticking with or switching to POP3.

When to Use Exchange:
Understanding Microsoft’s Mail and Calendaring Server

Features of Exchange: Mail, Calendaring, and Protocols

Exchange is a mail and calendaring server developed by Microsoft for Windows Server. Although it’s not a protocol, Exchange-based clients typically use a proprietary protocol called MAPI, which provides access to emails, contacts, and calendars. While Exchange also supports IMAP and POP3, these protocols only provide access to emails and not contacts or calendars, which are exclusively available through MAPI.

Compatibility of Exchange with Email Clients

Exchange can be used with most email clients, but its functionality may vary depending on the client being used. Microsoft Outlook is the recommended client for Exchange and offers the most complete integration with all of its features. However, Exchange also supports the use of IMAP and POP3 protocols, which allow users to access their emails using other email clients.

When to Use Exchange: Recommendation, Functionality and Compatibility

It is recommended to use Exchange whenever your environment operates on an Exchange-based service, which you may already be using without realizing it. For instance, if you are using Microsoft Office 365 with Microsoft Outlook, then you are using Exchange. If your company has its own Windows Mailserver and you are on MS Outlook, then it’s very likely that you are also using a Microsoft Exchange Server.

Other Exchange-based solutions include Exchange Online or Hosted Exchange mailboxes provided by many providers. Furthermore, Exchange supports IMAP and POP3, which allows users to access it on devices that are not Microsoft-based. Additionally, it’s worth noting that Apple devices also support Exchange.

Exchange POP3 IMAP: Feature Comparison

Compatible with any device or client
Emails are stored on the server
Email status is synced on all devices
Flags are synced on all devices
Supports contacts
Supports calendars
Reliable and secure
MailJerry compatible***
* POP3: only if copy of your emails is kept on the mail server ** Exchange: only emails, not for contacts and calendars

How to Check Your Email Protocol:
Find out if You’re Using IMAP POP3 Exchange…


If you want to know which email protocol you are currently using, here are some quick steps:


Check your Mailbox settings in your email client (Outlook, Apple Mail, Thunderbird, etc.) to see which protocol you are using. However, keep in mind that most clients do not allow you to change the protocol in the settings and will require you to delete the email address and re-add it completely.

Exchange POP3 IMAP: Find out which email protocol you are using
Find the type of email protocol you are using in the settings of your email client.


You are using Exchange if you are using Microsoft Outlook with one of these products:

  • Microsoft 365

  • Microsoft Exchange Server

  • Microsoft Exchange Online

  • Hosted Exchange Mailbox by any provider

Exchange IMAP POP3:
Can I use MailJerry to migrate my emails?

MailJerry can migrate all IMAP, Exchange and POP3 mailboxes, however, for Exchange & POP3, there are some limitations:

ProtocolMailJerry compatibleLimitations
POP3only compatible if a copy of the emails is kept on the mail server read and new flags are not fully supported
Exchangefull email support not compatible with contacts & calenders
As you see, in 99% of all cases, you can use MailJerry safely to migrate your emails. Good news, right? So let’s get your email migration started! 🎉