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What does IMAP4 mean

If you work using an email service, whether for newsletters or advertising, the concept of IMAP must be immediately clear. The English acronym stands for Internet Message Access Protocol, a series of rules governing the reception of emails by the client. This acronym is often incorrectly still linked to the Interactive Mail Access Protocol, when in reality this definition is linked only to the number three version of the protocol. Protocol that was launched by Mark Crispin back in 1986 and that currently has reached the fourth revision, hence the name IMAP4 for which it is famous. It is placed as a model of revolutionary communication, eliminating the old POP, since it allows communication, in addition to the classic client, also towards any software application that can receive email.

Main differences between IMAP and POP

Although both protocols allow the client to access, read, delete and forward emails received on the server, there are some substantial differences between the two parties. The main difference lies in the possibility offered by IMAP to perform important synchronization processes for received mail messages, such as:

  • Access to email offline: with IMAP the client is always connected to the network when available, allowing you to download even large messages. Leave the emails on the server and stores them in part on the cache (or in local memory if necessary) allowing you to view them at any time;
  • Synchronization: with IMAP you can set the mail client so that every single file or folder is synchronized in a granular way with different options;
  • Use of the same mailbox for multiple users: synchronization is also made possible by the ability of multiple clients to access the same mailbox, providing mechanisms to control changes made by each mail device with which you use the account.
  • Ability to do searches: server side, you can thanks to IMAP filter the results and in case of setting restrictions to not receive spam or unwanted messages;
  • Support of a mechanism for the definition of extensions: a server can communicate to users if it has extra features, often even widespread extensions. The IMAP Idle, for example, allows a client to tell the server that it is ready to accept notifications in real time.