Most people, business owners included, once setup properly and working never give e-mail much consideration until they can’t access their inbox. That’s when the panic happens and if you don’t have a well thought out plan you might be left with, well nothing.




The very basic difference between POP3 and IMAP

POP3 access mean e-mail is delivered and stored on your personal computer, tablet or phone. When you check e-mail and download it to your computer the e-mail is immediately deleted from the server.
IMAP on the other hand saves all your e-mail on the server. The advantage to IMAP access is that you can check and send e-mails on multiple devices because your always interacting with a mail server and not just one device. This kind of access is very popular for smartphone users that want to be able to send as well as check e-mail on the go and yet still be able to download e-mail to their personal computer or other device when they get back to the office or home.

Determine what you are currently using

How do I know if I’m using a POP3 setup?
If you have a program like Microsoft Outlook more than likely you’re using POP3 access. In this case you are downloading information off the server. If this is the case, then you need to consider a backup plan in the event of a hard drive failure.
The steps of a POP3 interaction:

  • Connect to the server
  • Get and store on your computer all mail (send and receive)
  • Delete mail from server*
  • Disconnect

*Most e-mail programs want to download the e-mail and delete it off the server but most do have options that can be set to keep copies on the server for a period of time.
What are the advantages of POP3?

  • Mail is stored locally on computer or other device
  • Internet connection only needed to send new mail
  • Can check more than one-email account and consolidate into one inbox if desired

How do I know if I’m using an IMAP setup?
If you are accessing your e-mail from several devices or are using one of the many free e-mail providers (yahoo mail, Google Gmail, Hotmail, etc), more than likely you are since all your e-mails are available on all your devices.
The steps of an IMAP interaction:

  • Connect to the server
  • Display the headers of all new and existing e-mail
  • User processes mail by sending, receiving, deleting and storing email on server
  • Disconnect

What are the advantages of IMAP?

  • Mail is stored on the server
  • Accessible from many devices at one time
  • Saves local hard drive space
  • Should be backed up if the server is managed correctly

Consider a backup plan

If you’re using POP3 you need to consider a backup plan
If you determine you are accessing your e-mail in a POP3 scenario then you are responsible for making backups. Instead of trying to cover all the possible scenarios here I would suggest a Google search with “backup (your version of e-mail program) to find some ideas on how to manually backup your files. If you use a service like carbonite or some other automated backup service, more than likely you’ll be automatically backing it up.
If you are using IMAP you need to learn how to get your data
Since all the mail is left on the server it leaves you with a dilemma. Do you trust that you’ll always be able to get at that data you have accumulated over the years? If you’re using one of the bigger free providers more than likely you would get a heads up if those services were to ever shut down. But what about if you’re using IMAP access to your ISP provider, (ie, Centurylink, Verizon, AT&T, etc), in the event that you change ISP providers you’ll want to be able to back up that data before cancelling the account.
So how do you backup your data.
I’m sure if you poke around with the name of your e-mail program and provider and do a search for “how to backup …” you’ll quickly find plenty of guides for your circumstances.
Setting up your email on our servers
To set up your e-mail with our ciop servers see our Guide on E-Mail Settings.
For additional reading I would suggest: