IMAP or MAPI; Which One Is for You?


In the year 2015, the number of email users across the globe was 2.6 billion. It is estimated that by the tail-end of 2019, the number will reach the mark of 2.9 billion. Amazing isn’t it? Emails have become a vital way to communicate and exchange data and people cannot imagine their lives without them.

But do we know all the facts about an email? I am guessing the answer is ‘no’. Having said that, the very first thing that we should be aware of are the different protocols which are required to download the emails. IMAP & MAPI are two such internet protocols. In this post, we shall discuss and conclude which one of these protocols should you choose and why.

 Beginning with IMAP….

 IMAP stands for Internet message access protocol. It is one of the internet standards needed for receiving emails. IMAP was created in the year 1986 by keeping in mind the needs of an internet user of the modern world. When an email client of IMAP receives a message, a copy of the message is downloaded from cloud on your system and a copy is also kept on the cloud. The idea behind this was to give the user the facility to read emails from anywhere. IMAP synchronizes the mailbox between the cloud and the email client. When a message is deleted from the mailbox, the copy of it that exists on the cloud will be simultaneously deleted. The emails are stored in remote servers. The users can view and access them by logging into different email clients and webmail. IMAP has made it possible to live in a world where emails can checked on mobile phones, different email clients and webmail interfaces. However, there is a catch, in fact two. First, since the mails are stored in a remote server, the size of the mailbox is limited. It is dependent on the email service the user is using. If the mailbox is full, sending and receiving new emails could encounter problems. Generally, IMAP is used in combination with the SMTP protocol such that the email client can not only receive but also send emails.

 Let’s see what MAPI has to offer…

MAPI was created and introduced by Microsoft. The email client ‘Microsoft Outlook’ utilizes all the facilities of the exchange server including email, calendar, and shared address books etc. because of the MAPI protocol.  MAPI makes way for the email client to communicate through the Microsoft Exchange server. It is also capable of offering what the IMAP offers. I.e. synching of emails, contacts etc. With the help of MAPI, messages from the cloud can be moved into a local file on the system. The files are called as .PST files. It is one effective way of having a back-up of all the important emails. Now, that MAPI and Exchange both are products of Microsoft; companies that Hotmail or have their own Exchange mail servers are allowed to make use of Exchange.

Final Verdict: Now, you know what are IMAP and MAPI protocols and what each one of them have to offer. Summing, MAPI has an upper hand to that of IMAP. IMAP is just an email protocol whereas MAPI is a full groupware protocol. MAPI is best utilized when MS Outlook is used as the email client. Also, the default Android mail client and iPhone, are “Exchange ActiveSync” (the function of synching mails) capable, giving Hotmail users the facility of IMAP style cloud-based email.

In case you are interested; here’s how you can migrate Outlook data from one computer to another PC.

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John Harris

With a decade of experience in data recovery, John Harris, Senior Editor at Remo Software, is your go-to specialist. His focus includes partition management, Windows solutions, and data troubleshooting, delivering insightful content that serves both users and search engines.

John's expertise shines through in illuminating blog posts, untangling data loss intricacies across diverse storage platforms. His mastery extends from file systems to SD cards, USBs, and external drives on Mac and Windows.

Recognized by cpomagazine, everythingusb, and more, John Harris is your trusted data recovery guide. You can also find his articles featured on, computertechreviews.

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