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Is IMAP Right for Me?

Stanford community members, previously limited to POP email service, now can choose between POP and IMAP for their @stanford email. Details about the differences appear elsewhere, but the lists below may help you decide which email protocol is better for you to choose.

Note: Not everyone at Stanford uses the @stanford mail system. Some schools, such as GSB and the Law School, have their own email system. If you are not sure whether you have an @stanford email account, open your email client and check the incoming mail server setting. If it is not "localhost" or "your-sunetid.pobox.stanford.edu" you are not using your @stanford mailbox. (You may be using your @stanford email address but forwarding your email from there to the email system you are using.) To use Stanford's IMAP email service, you would need to start using your @stanford mailbox; use HelpSU if you need assistance or further clarification.

You may want to use IMAP if:

  • you need access to your email, new and old, at multiple locations, e.g., office, lab, home
  • you want backup protection for your email files to be provided automatically by IT Services
  • you use POP but use the "leave email on server" option — IMAP handles this situation more efficiently, particularly as the Inbox gets larger
  • you used IMAP elsewhere and were satisfied with it

You may want to use POP if:

  • you generally work with your email only in a single location or on a single computer
  • Webmail works fine for you when you need to check new email if you are not at the computer you normally use
  • messages you save are stored safely, with adequate backup protection (to your satisfaction), on your computer
  • you are using POP now and are satisfied
  • you used POP elsewhere and were satisfied with it
Last modified March 4, 2010