What is the difference between IMAP and Exchange? The protocols for email services

For anyone doing business or freelance, the importance of emails for communications, cannot be understated. Having your emails sent and received when starting out and even after being well established, it is important to get it right. This means, your emails need to be set up to receive emails even on the go, so you can stay updated and get all your work or school emails (for the undergrads, and postgrad students).

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Securing the right email protocol is essential for business. Now while it may be confusing, it is still important to make the right decision for you. It is good to note the best features and how it needs to work at peak performance.

To begin with, one major difference between the two is that IMAP is a protocol that handles the synchronization of emails between the mail client programs and remote email servers. Microsoft has the exchange product which is hosted on the windows server and specifically designed to work with Microsoft Outlook clients and the windows mobile devices.


Exchange generally uses a similar syncing style to the one IMAP uses to sync their emails, contacts, calendars, and other features. The feature that the exchange service uses has a unique name and it is referred to as Exchange Active Sync. However, because it is a Microsoft service, the most common email clients used for exchange pertain to Microsoft’s outlook 2010 for windows as well as the Microsoft outlook 2011 for the MacBook.

What are they really?

Using the IMAP and POP3 your computer can access emails from a remote server. IMAP is the acronym for internet message access protocol. It is basically an advanced protocol for receiving e-mail, and it is preferred to the POP3. The Gmail application can also support the Microsoft exchange accounts for Android handsets. Now it is possible for users to add three kinds of accounts onto their handsets, including their personal email which is (IMAP/POP) and exchange as well.

A Microsoft exchange account can be a work or school-based email account. The company or organization that avails the account to you, has a program that is running the Microsoft exchange server which then provides you with the email service. For the user who is new to using IMAP, the way to find it is simply by going to your mail, then selecting preferences at the top of your screen. When a pop-up window shows up, proceed to click accounts and then select the account you wish to use.

Setting Up

Once you do that, you can now find the settings for the IMAP account you have chosen by going to the account information and selecting the account type which would be IMAP. When using exchange and making a set up via a mobile device, the auto-discovery feature will name the exchange server for you as the user, using the domain name in their email address. This also applies to your mailbox and outlook will also be configured for you. If the Autodiscover fails, you may be asked for the name of the exchange server.

If it comes to that, it is better to ask the contact people who gave you the email address to assist. Microsoft exchange also has an online version using office 365 suite. It is a hosted messaging application. It provides organizations with access to the full-features version which includes email, calendars, and tasks for any endpoint device. To connect to outlook, the exchange server uses a remote procedure call (RPC) protocol, also called the MAPI. It was specifically designed to use Microsoft outlook.

By now, it is clear that both IMAP and exchange are two different email protocols, that have the same goal in mind. Their similarities lie in how they both synchronize mail to all your personal devices like tablets, computers, and smartphones. However, as we have discovered they are only similar on the surface.



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