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Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP)

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Internet Message Access Protocol


IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. It is for receiving e-mail messages and storing these emails on the email server. Additionally, it allows users to read and manipulate the messages. It is the standard protocol used by email users to access mails from a mail server over a TCP/IP connection. Features of IMAP allows its multiple customers to operate the same mailbox. E-mail customers leave messages on the server until the user intentionally deletes them.

However, most of the mail servers (Gmail, Yahoo! etc) provides support for both IMAP and POP3.


There have been different versions of Post Office Protocol:-


  • Original IMAP – Original Interim Mail Access Protocol was introduced as a remote access mailbox protocol in 1986.

  • IMAP2 – Interactive Mail Access Protocol introduced in 1988. Defined in RFC 1064 and also updated by RFC 1176.

  • IMAP3 – Interactive Mail Access Protocol-Version 3 introduced in 1993 and defined by RFC 1203.

  • IMAP2bis – This was the revised version of IMAP2 and consists of extended specifications like create, delete, rename, message upload, etc.

  • IMAP4 – IMAP2bis was renamed as IMAP4 by the IMAP Working Group.


Ports on which IMAP works:-


  • 143 – It is the default IMAP port

  • 993 -It is the port for IMAPS(IMAP over SSL). And this port uses a secure socket layer (SSL).


Why better than POP?


  • IMAP4 gives a faster Response Time than POP.

  • It allows its clients to modify and access each part of the message separately.

  • Finally, it allows its clients to create, modify, delete mailboxes on the server.

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