Spectrum Internet

Differences in How IMAP and POP3 Email Protocols Work

IMAP and POP3 email protocols enable you to download messages from our servers to your Internet-connected computers, phones, and tablets.

We recommend using IMAP settings on all devices to prevent errors.

  • Using IMAP and POP3 simultaneously (or using POP3 across multiple devices) can cause mail synchronization errors when trying to send, receive, or access email.
  • You might get an error message such as this: “The mail server denied access to your account because another mail client was using it.”

Here's more information about the differences between IMAP and POP3.


  • Email messages are left on the server, similar to Cloud storage.
  • You can access email from multiple computers and mobile devices at any given time and will see the same results.
  • Your email is updated simultaneously across all the devices you use to check your email.
  • Your email is stored on remote email servers until you delete them.


  • When you access email from different devices, POP network protocol creates a copy of your emails and might delete the originals from the server, depending upon how you configure your email.
  • Actions taken on an email are limited to the device or computer on which they were performed. You cannot access those changes using webmail or another email client on other devices or computers.
  • You may only be able to see some email messages on some devices, or you might have to download some messages multiple times.
  • You might prefer POP if:
    • You only use one Internet-connected device for your email (including your computer).
    • You want to be able to have access to original emails on which you took action on other devices. If you accidentally delete an email you need on one device, you might still be able to access it on another device.
Article Number: 518

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