SMTP vs IMAP vs POP3: What’s the Difference?

Your search for an email client had just ended when you discovered a new hurdle. Your email client wants you to choose between IMAP and POP3. But you don’t have the slightest idea about what they are. Let’s discuss about SMTP vs IMAP vs POP3.

In this article, we’ll discuss email protocols, how they’re different, and how to choose the right one that fits your purpose. Let’s get started with SMTP vs IMAP vs POP3.

What is SMTP?

SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. It’s the industry-standard protocol for sending emails. When you send an email from any email client, you’re almost certainly using SMTP.

With SMTP, you send, relay, or forward messages from an email client like Eltris to a receiving email server. Simply put, a sender uses an SMTP server to transmit an email message.

The key difference between SMTP and other protocols is that SMTP is solely used for sending emails. The SMTP protocol doesn’t come into play while receiving or retrieving emails.


While SMTP is the standard protocol included in all email services, you can choose a receiving protocol. When setting up an email client, you’ll get the option to choose between IMAP and POP3.

Both IMAP and POP3 manage incoming emails, but they differ in storage and accessibility. Let’s delve into the working of IMAP and POP3.

Post Office Protocol – Version 3 (POP3)

POP3 manages your email inbox like a post office. As you receive emails, it automatically downloads them on your computer and removes them from the email server. 

Therefore, your client-server saves a copy of your received emails locally on your system. Your emails are tied to a specific device, and you can access them without an internet connection. 

Some email clients, like Eltris, also give you an option to keep a copy of the email on the mail server. This way, both options – offline access and online, multi-device access – are available to you. 

A drawback, however, of POP3 is that it doesn’t sync emails, even if they are in the same thread. Each received mail is considered as a separate email and is stored separately. The same goes for any email folders you’ve created on a device or email client. 

In all, POP3 is suitable for you if you use only one email client to access your emails. Besides, it regularly removes emails from the mail server, thereby freeing up storage space. And since emails are not kept on your server, the risk of theft and privacy issues remains low.

Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP)

Unlike POP3, IMAP stores your emails on the mail server. Most webmail services, like Gmail and Outlook, use IMAP. Since IMAP keeps the emails on the servers, you can access them from any device connected to the internet. And with mobile users making up for more than 60% of email traffic, it’s evident that email users are appreciating multi-device access.

In IMAP, you use the email client to connect to your mail server. Your mail server functions as the main storage where all your emails are stored. 

Because your emails reside on the cloud, you can easily access them from different devices. IMAP syncs all the newly received emails and changes. So, if you receive an email on an IMAP server, it’ll show up in your email client. And if you delete an email from your email client, it’ll be removed from your IMAP server. 

On the downside, mail servers have limited storage space. You will need to continuously empty your inbox to ensure ample space for receiving new emails. Also, your emails reside on online servers, making them vulnerable to theft and other security risks. 

IMAP can be an ideal choice for you if you have multiple email accounts. Or you prefer accessing your emails from various devices.

SMTP vs IMAP vs POP3 in Action

SMTP is the standard protocol for sending messages that comes with all email clients. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you choose POP3 or IMAP, SMTP remains constant. 

When you send an email, your email client uses the SMTP server to send the message to the receiver’s email server. The receiver will then receive the email depending upon which protocol he uses for receiving.

If someone sends you an email, the same process will come into play. The sender’s email client will use SMTP to transmit the message to your email server. After successful transmission, your email client will fetch the message using IMAP or POP3. 

If you have IMAP, the message will remain stored in the mail server. If it’s POP3, the email will be downloaded onto your system, and the original email will be removed from the server. So, that is the main thing to note in SMTP vs IMAP vs POP3.

IMAP vs POP3: Which is Better?

Both protocols have pros and cons. In the end, it depends on how you want to store and access your emails. 

If you use a single device for your emails, say your business laptop, POP3 will be a suitable pick. It would store your emails on the device, so you’ll be able to access them even if you’re not connected to the internet. 

However, POP3 is more or less similar to disk storage. If something happens to your device, you’ll lose all your emails. To avoid this, be sure to configure your client to store emails on the server.

If you want to access and manage your email account from multiple devices and locations, IMAP is the best pick. Since it stores emails on the mail server, you can access them from anywhere as long as you’re connected to the internet. IMAP is ideal for business owners and remote workers who travel quite often. 

The drawback to IMAP is limited storage space. You’ll need to constantly empty your inbox to maintain adequate storage space for new emails. And because all emails are stored online, the risk of theft and breach remains severe. To avoid privacy and security risks, use an email client like Eltris that offers robust encryption and spam & virus protection.

Wrapping up: SMTP vs IMAP vs POP3

Let’s quickly wrap up what we’ve covered in this post regarding SMTP vs IMAP vs POP3.

SMTP is the standard email sending protocol. No matter what email client or receiving protocol you choose, SMTP remains constant. 

POP3 and IMAP are the two email receiving protocols. POP3 stores your emails on the device and deletes them from the server. You can, therefore, access them without the internet. But you can only access them from one device.

IMAP stores your emails on the email server. It allows you to access emails from anywhere, but you may run into storage and security issues. 

The best pick? Pick an email client like Eltris that offers both POP3 and IMAP.

Email Client vs Webmail: Which One is Better and Why?

It’s a Monday morning, and you need to look into an email you received from a stakeholder last week. You use webmail, so you hurriedly open your web browser. “No internet,” the screen displayed as your WiFi suddenly stopped working. The task is urgent, but you’re helpless as you can’t access webmails without the internet. 

We’ve all been in a position where we couldn’t access emails due to internet problems. Well, email clients solve this hurdle. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the differences between webmail and an email client and how you can choose between the two.

What is Webmail?

Webmail is an email system accessible via any web browser connected to the internet. All the emails, contacts, and calendar services are hosted on the email service provider’s servers. Therefore, you can access your email account anywhere and from any device as long as you have a device and an internet connection. 

Most webmail systems are free, Gmail and Outlook being some notable examples. Webmails can be a good choice for you if you’re looking for a free service that offers excellent flexibility.

What is an Email client?

An email client refers to a desktop program that enables you to access your emails on your computer without logging in via the web. These systems are linked to email accounts through POP3 or IMAP addressing. Thus, they can handle emails from accounts with ISPs and other non-webmail services. 

Email clients also provide access to email, address books, and chat features, but on a more advanced scale with additional storage and security features. Eltris is a great example of an email client powered by POP3, IMAP, and SMTP protocols.

Pros and Cons of Webmail and Email Client

Both webmails and email clients have their set of advantages and drawbacks. Let’s take a look at both to give you a better insight into the two services. 

Advantages of Webmail

  • Single accounts: If you prefer a single inbox for all your accounts, webmail can be an ideal option. Webmail keeps your account separate and easier to manage. However, you’ll need to log in to each email account separately.
  • Web-based service: You can opt for webmail if you prefer web-based services over downloadable applications. Webmails allow you to access your emails from the browser without the need to install any software. 
  • Keep emails online: Webmail would be an ideal pick if you feel more secure keeping your email online and not on your computer. 

Disadvantages of Webmail

  • Security: Webmails have privacy concerns, and you could compromise the security of your account. These systems may access your email account and conversations for profitability purposes.
  • Adverts: Though Webmails may seem free on the surface, they’re not actually free. By signing up for a free Webmail service, you agree to share your private information. These providers may use your confidential information to sell adverts. 
  • Storage and scalability: Webmails come with limited storage space, and they’re not scalable. If you want to send large attachments, webmail is probably not the ideal pick for you.

Advantages of Email Client

  • Multiple email addresses: If you have multiple email addresses with different domains, an email client allows you to manage them all from one account. Therefore, you don’t need to log-in to your accounts separately.
  • Offline access: Email clients like Eltris allow you to access your previously received emails offline. This can be a lifesaver if you need some information urgently and you don’t have internet access. 
  • Advanced set of features: Email clients are robust. They offer a wide range of features that Webmails don’t. These systems offer encrypted connections and spam & virus protection of enhanced security. The storage space is larger and easily expandable. Providers like Eltris also offer automatic backup, so your old emails don’t eat up extra space. 
  • Integrations: Email clients also offer integration with other systems like CRM and ERP, thereby creating an ideal business ecosystem. If you’re a business owner, you should opt for an email client. 

Disadvantages of email client

  • Cost: The only drawback of an email client is that you need to pay a nominal monthly fee.

Email Client vs Webmail: The difference

Now that you’ve understood the pros and cons of the two, let’s delve into the differences. 

The choice between webmail and an email client can be difficult because both the services are the same at their core. Both allow you to send, receive, and manage emails. In fact, you can even set up an email client to access webmail. However, the difference lies in the accessibility and features. 

As discussed, an email client is an email program that stores all your emails and contacts on the computer. So, you can access your email even if you don’t have an internet connection. Webmails can be accessed via a web browser on your desktop or smartphone, but only if you have an internet connection. 

Webmails are free to use, but they have limited privacy and security. The storage space is limited, and these services also lack advanced features. Email clients charge a nominal fee, but they offer expandable storage space, cutting-edge security, and advanced features. 

Email Client vs Webmail: Which one is better?

As mentioned previously, both email clients and webmails have their set of pros and cons. Therefore, the ultimate choice boils down to your requirements. But let’s draw a clearer picture of who should use which service. 

Webmails are ideal for personal use. They’re suitable for students and professionals looking for a personal email. If your purpose is to have conversations or exchanges with friends and family, you’ll be fine with webmail. 

Email clients are meant for professionals, ideally businesses, and business owners. In business, you’re likely to send emails with sensitive, confidential information. When you use webmails, your service providers can access your conversations, including the files and documents you send. Email clients offer encryption to make sure no one except you and the receiver access the information. 

Email clients offer other business benefits as well, such as improved credibility and branding. Because of this reason, the use of an email client is surging. The email software market size was $40 billion in 2019 and was expected to grow at a CAGR of 17% during the 2019-2023 forecast period.

Conclusion: Email Client vs Webmail

In conclusion, it all boils down to your requirements. If you want to use email for personal use, opt for webmail. If you want to manage a business email account, an email client is significantly better. 

Check out Eltris if you’re looking for a secure, feature-rich, and affordable email client service.

Emails for Your Business: Gmail vs Domain Email Address

Setting up a business email account is the primary step after starting a business website and you have two options: Gmail vs Domain Email Address. You can either pick a free email service like Gmail or opt for a custom domain email address provider like Eltris.

Enterprises and SMBs always opt for domain email addresses. But as an entrepreneur, freelancer, or a startup, making this choice can be quite tricky.

In this article, we’ll dive into the key differences between free email services like Gmail and domain email providers.

Let’s get started.

Gmail: The free email

Firstly, nothing is free on the internet. No matter what service you use, the provider will gain some kind of profit from you.

For instance, you’ll never have to pay a dime to use Gmail. However, Google will have access to your emails. So, it’ll look into them. Or simply put, it’ll scan them in and out to determine what kind of emails you send or receive. Based on your interactions, Google will target ads.

So, free email providers get something in return. But on the downside, you compromise on privacy and safety.

Pros of Gmail

  • The service is free of cost.
  • The storage space and features you receive are enough to satisfy your personal requirements.

Cons of Gmail

  • The security Gmail offers is weaker than professional domain email providers.
  • The provider accesses your personal information and interactions to target ads
  • It’s less professional, authentic, and brandable.
  • Storage space is limited up to 15GB.

Who uses Gmail (and other free email services)?

Gmail works well for personal use. If you’re using email just to represent yourself, you can stick to free email providers. This includes interacting with your friends and family. Also, if you’re a student, it’s better to stick to a free provider.

But if you’re a business owner, freelancer, or a professional representing a firm, having a domain email address is a must.

Domain email address

In a domain email address, you pay a small monthly fee to get an email address with your domain name. So, instead of having “[email protected],” you’ll have “[email protected].” Clearly, the second one looks neater, more professional, and more branded.

There are other tangible benefits of custom email hosting, including enhanced security, more storage, and seamless scalability.

Pros of domain email address

  • More storage space
  • Superior security
  • Complete privacy
  • Increased branding, credibility, and professionalism

Cons of domain email address

  • None

Who uses a domain email address?

A domain email address is a go-to choice for all business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers. If you want your brand to stand out, you need a professional email address. Apart from branding and credibility, people use domain emails for additional features and security.

Gmail vs. domain email: The difference

As discussed, both free services and domain providers have pros and cons. Gmail is free, but a domain email address comes with extra security.

Let’s delve deeper into the differences between the two to help you make a better choice. 

  1. Privacy

By choosing a free email provider, you agree to sell your privacy in exchange for the services. Most Gmail users aren’t aware of this because nobody really reads the license agreement. So, when you agree to share your information, Google makes money through targeted ads.

Domain email providers, on the other hand, offer complete privacy. You get a dedicated server, and you get to decide who looks into your emails and who doesn’t. Website browsers won’t get any insight into your email, so they can’t use it for ads.

  1. Branding with a domain email address

Emails are the cornerstone of business communication. No matter the type of communication – inbound, outbound, or internal – the use of email is prevalent. 

If you choose a domain email, it’ll go a long way in enhancing your branding. When you reach out to your customers or vice versa, a domain email will make a better first impression. It’ll be easy to remember and will indicate that you’re serious about your business. 

If your email address ends with “,” you’ll look like a random guy trying to scam his customers. You’ll not have an individual identity, and your prospects will approach you with skepticism.

Trust is a critical aspect of success in business. When you use a domain email, you position yourself as someone authentic and trustworthy. And 86% users feel that  authenticity is one of the primary factors while choosing the brands they support.

  1. Accessibility: Gmail vs Domain Email

Accessibility on multiple devices is a feature most email users tend to ignore. The chances are that you check your email on a few devices, a laptop, and a smartphone, to name a few. Free services like Gmail don’t offer effective syncing options. Even though you can access your account on multiple devices, the features can be limited.

Domain email providers have their own syncing system that ensures you get all the features regardless of the device you use.

  1. The cost of a domain email address

The only tangible benefit of using a free email provider is that it’s free. You don’t have to pay a dime out of your pocket, which might seem like an amazing deal. But as discussed before, you agree to sell your privacy as soon as you sign up for a free email service. 

Although domain email providers charge a nominal fee, they don’t mess around with your privacy. So, choose wisely.

  1. Compatibility: Gmail vs Domain Email

Some domain email providers may have compatibility issues, so be sure to double-check when committing to a service. Always look for a domain email provider that works smoothly on all devices. Eltris, for example, offers excellent compatibility on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Conclusion: Gmail vs Domain Email

Selecting the right email provider can be a baffling task. To make the right decision, ask this to yourself: does my identity impact my business

If the answer is yes, go for a domain hosting provider. If your purpose for email use is personal and has nothing to do with branding, you can stick to free providers. 

Also, check out Eltris for customized, scalable, and affordable domain email hosting.