Difference between SMTP and IMAP

SMTP is the industry-standard protocol for sending an email. If you are looking to send an email then you will use SMTP instead of IMAP. An SMTP relay service can help you send emails without having to build your own SMTP server. Here this article gives information about the main key difference between SMTP and IMAP to better understand this topic.

What is SMTP?


SMTP stands for simple mail transfer protocol. This type of protocol allows applications to transmit email messages over the internet. SMTP handles your own outgoing mail. Your email application connected to your mail server via SMTP and sends the message.


What is IMAP?


IMAP stands for internet access message protocol is an email protocol that deals with managing and retrieving email messages from the receiving server. IMAP deals with message retrieval. You will not be able to use the IMAP protocol to send an email. Instead, IMAP is used for receiving messages.

The main key difference between SMTP and IMAP:

  • SMTP is used for sending emails but IMAP is used for retrieving emails.
  • SMTP is used between servers, IMAP is only used between client and server.
  • SMTP is the prevalent protocol for outgoing email whereas IMAP is only one of two prevalent protocols for email retrieval.

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