Traditional email (POP3 / IMAP) vs Office 365

    Most people and organisations take email for granted these days. The systems and protocols that transmit and enable the functionally of email have evolved over time, and this blog takes a brief look at what some of the major changes have happened – starting with POP and IMAP, through to the latest Office 365 systems.

    The original POP (Post Office Protocol standard has been used widely since it was introduced in 1984. Technology quickly moved on and POP3 became standard in 1988, which allows encrypted connection but is still functionality very limited, compared to today’s standards. IMAP was introduced shortly after) and has become very popular as it gives more synchronised options for email functionality. Even when POP3 should have retired a long time ago it is still a commonly used email system when it comes to home users and small companies, since many small companies keep their email hosting bundles with their web hosting. This can sometime seem and obvious reasonable choice, but can cause issues as they will only get a basic level of support.

    Many medium to large companies could afford to buy, setup, and support Microsoft Exchange server (introduced by Microsoft in March 1996) which gave them a corporate level of email functionality (full sync between client and server, mobile setup, shared resources, calendars and contact data stored in the mailbox). Small companies on the other hand were left with POP3/IMAP email due to the high cost of the Exchange server against the free or low cost of POP3/IMAP mailboxes.

    Some of the web hosting companies were offering Exchange mailboxes as a hosted service but they were not very popular for two main reasons

    • price (compared to POP3/IMAP)
    • lack of awareness, understanding, or information from providers

    In 2008 Microsoft introduced “BPOS” which stood for Business Productivity Online Suite. This was essentially an online version of Exchange which clients paid per mailbox on a monthly or annual bases.) This gave organisations of all sizes the opportunity to move to Microsoft Exchange without buying an email server. Shortly after the big success of BPOS Microsoft released its successor Office 365.

    Email in the modern day Office 365 gives companies of all sizes access to previously enterprise-only technology for managing their email. Compared to the older POP3 and IMAP standards, Office 365 offers many benefits:

    Office 365

    • emails available offline and online
    • sent items/deleted items fully synchronised and visible on all devices
    • mail system independent from web hosting and 99.9% uptime guaranteed
    • supported by most current mobile devices
    • 1 hour response time from support team
    • calendar, contacts and notes all fully synchronise
    • items (e.g. calendar, contacts, or inbox) can be shared between colleagues


    • various configuration details required
    • emails stored on each device available offline
    • manual configuration needed to be sure you will not lose your email if your computer fails
    • sent items/deleted items visible only on device used to send or delete email
    • no sync between devices (emails downloaded on each device are shown as new)
    • no contact, calendar, or data syncing
    • most of the suppliers don’t give support apart from setup
    • mail system is often kept with web hosting so if web server goes down email traffic is stopped as well
    • low level of mobile support


    • emails available offline and online
    • sent items/deleted items visible only on device used to send or delete email, unless specially configured
    • enables low level of sync between devices (Inbox only)
    • most of the suppliers don’t give support apart from setup
    • mail system is kept with web hosting so if web server goes down email traffic is stopped as well
    • not supported by all email providers
    • These are just a few of the basic, but great, advantages of moving to Office 365. Moving from one system to another is never easy but Office 365 will help your business work better improving communication and saving time.

    If you would like more information or assistance with moving to Office 365 please feel free to contact us and one of our team will be happy to assist you.



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