IMAP vs. POP vs. Server

I installed a new IMAP account in EM Client because the advice on this site says IMAP is better than POP if I check email from two devices. I check email on two desktop computers, one at home and one at work. That’s all. But now if I delete a message from EM Client on my computer at work it is also deleted from the server (I use gmail) and so I can’t download that same message on my home computer. I don’t want the emails deleted from the server at all, ever. I want to receive the same message twice, on both computers, even if later I have to delete it on each computer. I know it’s repetitive and a hassle to download every single message on each computer and delete most of them twice, but that’s what I want to do and what I’m used to doing. POP has a setting to “leave messages on server” but my new IMAP account doesn’t. (I don’t have “download messages” checked.) Is there some other setting I need to change so that all messages always stay on the gmail server? That’s the way it worked before I switched to the IMAP account.
My gmail server now has IMAP “enabled” (as well as POP) and Auto-Expunge (whatever that is) “Off.” The setting "When a message is marked as deleted . . . " is set for “archive.” The “Limit IMAP folders” is 5,000, and under that are instructions for “Configure your email client.” Should I change some gmail settings? Should I change some eM Client IMAP settings?

But now if I delete a message from EM Client on my computer at work it is also deleted from the server (I use gmail) and so I can’t download that same message on my home computer.

When you setup an IMAP account, you are basically reading your mail “directly on the remote mail server” so all your devices setup as IMAP see the same email in the inbox.

However if you delete an email on one device all the other devices will mirror that deletion, as you are deleting it directly on the server as is the nature of IMAP.

So don’t delete email from your inbox if you want to see the same email on your other devices.

Also if you create and send an email on one device all the other devices will update the same.

Are you sure that Gmail has deleted these messages? I think that the options you have chosen mean that the deleted messages are stored in the Gmail All Mail folder. But this is not general. Gmail does not implement IMAP in the same way as other email providers. You have to work quite hard to get rid of all trace of message sent to Gmail.

Wow–I never knew about that! You’re right, there are a bunch of emails in that folder that I thought were gone because I deleted them (or moved them out of the inbox to another folder) on my computer. The messages that are now in the All Mail folder now have folder tags, but the only place I put them into folders is on my computer. I didn’t do that on the server. Very interesting. On the whole, though, I would still prefer to have ALL messages remain on the gmail server.

That’s the current situation, but that’s what I want to change, if possible, so that every email remains on the gmail site. Should I switch to POP?

Some basic principles may help. Email systems are databases, though the details are hidden to a greater or less extent. IMAP is a variant of a client-server database. The key point is that the server is the master and there can only be one version of the master. Hence, you can’t have multiple clients with different versions of the database as that leads to inconsistencies and all kinds of problem.

The only option is to store all of the data but in a way that allows different clients to see it in different ways. Instead of deleting emails you can transfer them to an Office-only folder or a Home-only folder. Hide the former under your Home client and vice-versa. Everything is still there but not all of it is visible according to your location. This is harder work than most people want to bother with and means being careful about using the Bin button.

POP does not use a client-server database model but it has significant disadvantages with respect to maintaining consistency between email archives when accessed from different computers. Ultimately it is more clumsy and difficult to use in a safe & reliable manner, which is why there has been a shift to use of IMAP. POP was designed for use by people with a small number of email accounts accessed from a single computer. Ways of using it more flexibly put the responsibility on the user and are not robust to human error.


Gmail don’t want peeps using POP mail any longer from May 2022 due to security reasons. Thus the email to all users from Google this year about moving to IMAP from POP.

Options you can do though using IMAP in Gmail

If you you click “Archive” instead of delete in eM Client Inbox it goes to the “All Mail” folder in Gmail. You can then still access that anytime on any other computer or mobile device via that folder.

If you click “Delete” from the Inbox in eM Client it goes to the Trash folder in Gmail, where it stays for 30 days and then gets auto deleted if you don’t move it out of the Trash folder.

So suggest to use the Archive button in eM Client.

Thanks, that’s a great idea.

1 Like