You’ll be forgiven if the title of this blog made your brain spin a little; after all, who NEEDS to know the difference between types of email account? Well, you, that’s who! Knowledge is power, and identifying the type of email you are using will empower you to be in a position to fix it should it not work as expected.
The three terms you will be looking for are POP, IMAP/SMTP and Exchange Server.
POP has been around since the beginning of email, and is the simplest of all the services, not requiring a licence to use. Your email client connects to the mail server, downloading the content onto your device, before removing it from the server by default. If you are using POP on multiple devices, make sure to change the default setting which deletes mail from the server when it has been downloaded; this helps to avoid the issue of being unable to read the same mail on multiple devices.
Exchange was developed by Microsoft and, as such, requires a licence to use, usually in the form of a subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365 package. Exchange works well with other Microsoft products such as Sharepoint and Office, and its storage capabilities and collaborative tools makes it a good investment for a business. The downside is that it takes a bit of know-how to set it up and it isn’t a free service, unlike POP.
No licence is required to use IMAP, as with POP, but the advantage of IMAP is that it syncs more easily between multiple devices by storing both incoming and outgoing mail on the server. It has more functionality than POP, allowing you to customise inboxes and create folders. Its benefits are also its drawbacks; the need to always be online and the ability to sync between devices does mean that it may run a little slower than POP.