How Email Works in General

Now that we’ve covered the basics of how email works and you have set up an email account, you need to learn how to check your email. Before you can check your email you need to make a few important decisions such as choosing which email client to use and deciding which protocol to choose (POP3 or IMAP).

Email Clients Explained

An email client is a program used to manage your email. Email clients allow you to send and receive mail among other things. There are many different email clients you can choose from some of which are free to use. You are free to use whichever email clients you wish however we will highlight a few here. There are two types of email clients available: webmail which is web-based and desktop clients.

Webmail Clients

Included in your hosting plan are three different webmail clients that are offered free of charge. Since the webmail clients available are web based one of the advantages is that you can check your email from any computer with an internet connection. Learn more information on how to use webmail.

Desktop Clients

Desktop clients are applications or programs used to access your email account from your desktop. There are many popular clients such as Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Mac Mail. For information on setting these email client up, please see our Getting Started Guide: Email.

Differences between POP3 and IMAP

POP3 Protocol Explained

If you set up your email client address using POP3 and you check your email, all of the emails are downloaded into the email client and removed from the server completely. Think of POP3 like the post office. If you go to the post office because they have your mail and pick it up, it’s no longer there once you retrieve it. In this analogy, the post office is the email server, and you are the email client. One major advantage to POP3 over IMAP is if you have emails with large attachments, they will open up much faster if they are on your desktop. Also, email that you have already received you can read anytime, even without an internet connection. There are a few disadvantages to POP3 as well. If your email client crashes, you will lose all your emails and there are no copies on the server. Also, if you plan on checking your email from multiple devices such as a smart phone, laptop, desktop computer, or webmail itself – once the email is read it will not be able to be viewed on any other devices. Most POP3 accounts can be set up in an email client to leave a copy of the message on the server.

IMAP Protocol Explained

If you set up your email using the IMAP protocol and you check your email, the emails will remain on the server. Using the same analogy as the POP3, if you were to visit the post office and check your post office box. If you have mail, you read it but place it back in the post office box so you can read it later. The mail actually never leaves the post office or server in this case. The biggest advantage to IMAP is it allows you to check your email from multiple clients and/or webmail since all of the messages remain on the server. This advantage also allows multiple people check the same email account and view all the emails associated with that particular account. There are a few disadvantages to IMAP though. Since the email does remain on the server, you may need to periodically delete or archive your emails so the account does not reach it’s quota or become unmanageable. Also, if you have a large number of emails, it may take longer to check your email since each time you check your email it will download a copy every time you connect.

What we Recommend

Most business owners prefer IMAP over POP3, since it allows more flexibility in checking your email. However, if you are only checking you email from one location such as your phone or computer POP3 will make checking your email much faster. If you decide to use POP3, we recommend regularly backing up your email account in case of data loss.

Please check the next article on Writing and Sending Email. If you missed our previous article, please see the Creating an Email Account tutorial. For more information on this course please visit Basic Introduction to Email

21 thoughts on “How Email Works in General

  1. Good morning I do have to remove my number credit card on the system but the email was not mine. There are tree years ago I didn’t work for the company where in motion hosting take 183 us$ for it internet site. Please write me in private to help me to remove that.
    Please I need to do that before closing the credit card.
    Thank you for your help!

  2. Hello i am trying to send a email to my kindle fire…it says I have to configure it first…I have no idea if it’s pop or the imap one..I’ve tried to find the answer but haven’t had any luck…I’m using the email domain…any help would be greatly appreciated…I have had the email address since I got my kindle in Dec of 2016 but haven’t tried to use it til now…it is a Fire HD8 (6th generation)…please point me in the right direction…thank you!!!!

    1. Hello,

      Unfortunately I was unable to find any relevant information on amazons website. I would recommend you reach out to their support to see if they can provide you any details for it.

      Best Regards,
      Kyle M

  3. I tried to install the email client for Mac, and after one failed attempt, it has sucessfully installed…I think. I am unsure how tov erify this. Nevethless, the window says that the email address SSL has been signed by an unverified authorizer. How can htis be fixed? How do you verify authentication?

    1. You can test if email is working by sending an one to another address or person. You can verify the certificate if you are using the server name.

      Alternately, you can install a free SSL on your domain and use your domain for the mailservers.

      Thank you,

  4. Thanks. I’m trying to set up in Thunderbird, and I’m getting a POP3 error message, which was why I was attempting to change to IMAP. It will send email, but will not receive.

    1. Hello Tracey,

      Sorry for the problem with your Thunderbird email client. Make sure to check your settings – you can go to our article on email settings for more info. Additionally, we do have a guide that may help determine why you’re not receiving email. Please see how to troubleshoot receiving email issues. If you continue to have the problem, you can contact our live technical support team for immediate help.

      If you have any further questions or comments, please let us know.

      Arnel C.

  5. I’m trying to figure out how to change from POP to IMAP. I’m setting up an email account for a new user, and I failed to select the “manual configuration” setting. She is not getting incoming messages, and I think that may be the reason.

  6. Since setting up my work email through my personal email. Its connected to my microsoft account set up and requires verification. How can I verify this email? I had a password and it says its not the password.

    This is probably really simple. Thank you.

    1. I recommend resetting your email password, this will ensure you are using the correct one.

      Thank you,

  7. Hi,

    I created an email address via cPanel and followed the instructions. When I tried sending a test email to that address, it returned a Mail Delivery Subsystem error. 

    Could you please help me?


    1. Where did you see the error? Did the message “bounce back”? Was there any other information in the error? Where are you sending that test message? Is the domain you sent the email to registered and/or functioning properly?

  8. Hello, I am hoping you can help, I have followed the instructions carefully to have my new email appear in on my desktop mac mail and I am still getting errors 🙁 

    Here is the error message, I can not send or recieve anything yet. 

    “There may be a problem with the mail server or network. Verify the settings for account “EXAMPLE Designs” or try again.

    The server returned the error: Connections to the server “” on the default ports timed out.”


    I am using port 465 with ssl. ( as notice in the help section)



    1. Hello Jenn,

      Thank you for contacting us. Since this is a public forum, I have replaced your domain with for security purposes. I recommend verifying your settings with your mail host (I looked at your MX records and they not pointed to us).

      If your mail is supposed to be with InMotion Hosting, you will have to point your MX records to us. You can then view your email settings in cPanel, and setup your Mac Mail.

      If your problems persist, I recommend contacting Live Support, so they can review the email logs in real-time while you are connecting.

      Thank you,

Was this article helpful? Join the conversation!