As a business owner, you don’t have time to understand the ins and outs of email protocol – you barely have time to read your email. However, you should at least know the basics when making this decision for your firm. There are three major email protocols: POP3, IMAP and Exchange. POP3 remains the most basic where IMAP and Exchange offer greater advantages, respectively.
There is nothing wrong with using POP3 if your needs are minimal and you operate off of one primary computer. Although, this is typically not the case with businesses as laptops, PCs, smartphones, tablets and yes, even phablets have become a powerful necessity. POP3’s largest complaint is its inability to leverage multiple computers to manage email.
POP3 functionality begins and ends with you downloading and saving a copy of your email message locally (only); the file is then deleted on the mail server. Meaning, you are bound to one computer for managing email. Sent emails are not saved and read emails are not synced. Mailbox sizes generally run fairly small and large files will drag their feet to download, depending on bandwidth.
The benefit to using POP3 is that it’s inexpensive. For example, you could get five email accounts with GoDaddy for just a $2.99 per month.
IMAP has syncing functionality across multiple devices which is attractive to many business owners. IMAP allows you to check and manage email from any computer as the messages are sitting on mail servers and are not being saved locally to your primary computer; this back up feature also provides a sense of security. You have flexibility in how and when you choose to read your email. If you check your email on your smartphone, it will automatically be marked as “read” on other devices, saving you time in culling through read and unread emails.
Exchange offers the same syncing capabilities as IMAP, plus much more. Exchange is a Microsoft product, giving you the ability to still use Outlook as your email service and benefit from Exchange functionality. It’s more expensive ($4.00/month/user), but for good reasons.
Exchange allows you to not only sync email statuses, but also your calendar, contacts and tasks, giving you the flexibility to schedule meetings and view shared calendars from any device. Supported by BlackBerry, iPhone and Android, you’re able to manage your entire email account remotely with effortless syncing on your part. Data is automatically backed up and you’re guaranteed a 99.9% uptime. Spam filtering, message recall, online archive and up to 25GB of storage are also included within Exchange.
Carefully evaluate the right email protocol for your business and familiarize yourself with both the limitations and capabilities so you understand how it’s either hindering or contributing to your people’s productivity.