What Email is Right for You?

What Email is Right for You?

January 22nd, 2014 by Christopher C. Wright

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Many Sonoma County business owners are looking for more reliable email solutions tailored to their individual needs. Though there are many providers for email services often the one that has the most impact on day-to-day use is the type of email server you connect to. By and large there are three types of email service including POP, IMAP, and Exchange. Today we’re detailing the benefits and drawbacks of these email server types and helping you make the right choice.


The Post Office Protocol is a long-standing offering from almost every mail provider. By default when checking for email your device will download all of the new messages and delete them from the server. The main benefit to POP is that requires very little server space to run and you always know where your mail is — on your device. POP does have some limitations however, including the lack of multi-device support, no server-side backups, and the fact that your mail, once downloaded, can only be viewed on that one device. POP may be most useful with a small email account that is a) not checked from multiple devices, and b) not used for business-critical purposes. An infrequently-used throwaway address, for example.


The Internet Message Access Protocol represents a large step forward from standard POP connections. With IMAP messages are stored on the server, and their state (read, replied to, forwarded) is preserved meaning that multiple devices will all show the same information — read a message on one and it will be marked as read for all. IMAP is a powerful tool that allows for server-side folders and the very real benefit that, should you lose your device, email is still able to be accessed from a different device or web client, since messages are only copied to your phone, not moved as with POP. IMAP has long been a standard of business email addresses and is highly recommended for users with multiple devices and who need more reliability in their email storage.


As IMAP gave server-side enhancements to POP so too does Exchange add on those enhancements for use in a business environment. Connecting with a Windows server running Active Directory Exchange can provide unified access to network services, meaning users have the same password for their workstation log ins and they do for their email. It allows for a network administrator to set rules and restrictions through Group Policy, such as requiring that phones connecting to the business email account be protected by a passcode lock. In the event of a lost device Exchange can even remotely wipe the phone in question, keeping business information private. Exchange has many advantages over IMAP, but the majority are only realized in an enterprise environment using shared calendars, network management, and in a primarily Windows environment. Developed by Microsoft, Exchange continues to be a dominant force in the business marketplace. Unlike POP or IMAP accounts however, which may be less than a dollar per user per month, typical Exchange accounts cost four dollars a month or more.

So Which is Right for you?

Most single individuals can get by with POP email, but we always encourage users to keep backups, especially because POP servers typically won’t. For businesses with up to twenty employees IMAP tends to work very well, as the more enterprise-level features of Exchange may not be fully utilized for the price. Organizations with more than twenty users whose network is managed by a Windows server should absolutely look into Exchange both for the reliability and the additional collaboration features unavailable to the other systems.

Whatever your choice or your situation, MSMB Networks is happy to help you make a plan to move forward and best utilize the email server type that suits your needs. Call us at 415.462.6297 to schedule a consultation today!

MSMB Networks — Your IT Professionals!

Christopher C. Wright is the CTO of MSMB Networks, focusing on network and system administration, upgrade planning, disaster recovery, and IT budget analysis in Petaluma and all over Sonoma and Marin Counties. With more than fifteen years of hands-on experience, he is committed to educating and protecting his clients, ensuring they receive the best individualized support possible. Email him at christopher@msmbnetworks.com

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