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Internet message access protocol (IMAP) can be defined as an application that allows users to access their emails on the internet. It is a major improvement from the POP (Post Office Protocol). IMAP entails accessing emails directly from the internet as opposed to pop where mails had to be downloaded first before being accessed. This paper mainly focuses on the advantages and disadvantages of the IMAP protocol. The advantages include mail synchronization, easy migration between different computers and the ability of main servers to allow for concurrent usage. The complex nature of IMAP posses a challenge in terms of performance and maintaining of user accounts.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the IMAP Protocol

Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) is an application used for accessing mails from the internet. IMAP is different from other mail accessing systems in the sense that messages on the mail server can be manipulated by the user rather than them being downloaded first to local machine used. Incoming messages are sent directly the email box of a recipient via for storage an email server.  As opposed from other systems, IMAP allows the user to access mails from various locations and machines with the capability to support operation modes online as well as offline (Karanjit, 2002).

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According to Walker (2010), IMAP has various advantages compared to initial systems such as the POP (Post Office Protocol). Synchronization of all emails and general mail box activities is a major advantage for the IMAP. Mail folders are constantly updated, taking into account all changes made, therefore allowing the user to access their accounts from any location thus ensuring mail safety.   IMAP allows for easy migration between different computers since messages are manipulated remotely eliminating the need for then being downloaded.

The IMAP system allows multiple users to access their accounts simultaneously and providing a further capability for users to notice changes on their mail boxes made by other users connected concurrently.  Servers provide multiple user mailboxes and thus allow users to create, delete and generally manipulate mailboxes.

Kundrat (2009) asserts that, IMAP has gone a long way in eliminating the shortcomings of POP but doesn't lack its disadvantages. Due to the complex nature of IMAP, its maintenance is also very complex.  The user account is also limited to a certain number of mails they can store since all mails are stored in the server. Since IMAP allows for multiple users on a single server, messages take load slowly compared to POP. A user cannot access their mails unless they are online.

The IMAP protocol has improved internet mail communication exceptionally. With all its advantages such as synchronization of mail account activities, easy migration between different computers and its capability to allow for concurrent usage, internet mailing services have been made easier. Due to the complexity of the IMAP protocol, emails load rather slowly and maintaining the main server is a big challenge.

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