The Most Popular Email Protocol: Ranking the Top Choice

Choose the email protocol you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 19, 2024 07:03
Step right into the fascinating world of email protocols with StrawPoll's latest ranking – "What is the most popular email protocol?" Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and curious minds as we delve into the backbone of email communication, dissecting the various protocols that keep our inboxes buzzing. Be it POP3, IMAP or SMTP, cast your vote for your favorite protocol and watch as the rankings unfold in real-time. Can't find your preferred option? Worry not, for you can suggest a missing protocol and rally support to see it climb the ladder of popularity. So, don't miss out on this thrilling race of email protocols – click further and be a part of the conversation shaping the future of digital communication!

What Is the Most Popular Email Protocol?

  1. 1
    SMTP is the most popular email protocol used for sending and receiving email messages. It is a standard protocol that is used by almost all email clients and servers.
    SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is a widely used network protocol for transmitting email messages between mail servers. It provides a reliable and efficient method of sending electronic mail across networks.
    • RFC 5321: The original specification of SMTP
    • RFC 2821: SMTP implementation details and extended commands
    • RFC 1870: SMTP Service Extension for Message Size Declaration
    • RFC 3463: Enhanced status codes for SMTP
    • RFC 4954: SMTP Service Extension for Authentication
  2. 2
    IMAP is another popular email protocol that allows email clients to access messages stored on a remote server. It is a more advanced protocol than POP3 and provides better email management features.
    IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is a standard internet protocol used for accessing and managing email messages on a mail server. It allows users to view, retrieve, and organize their email messages from multiple devices, while keeping the messages stored on the server.
    • RFC 3501: Defines the basic protocol for IMAP version 4rev1.
    • RFC 2177: Introduces the IMAP4 IDLE command for real-time message notifications.
    • RFC 2087: Offers secure authentication through the IMAP4 SASL extension.
    • RFC 2595: Describes the IMAP4 Non-synchronizing Literals extension.
    • RFC 3502: Defines the MULTIAPPEND command, which allows multiple messages to be uploaded in a single transaction.
  3. 3
    POP3 is another email protocol that allows email clients to retrieve messages from a remote server. It is a simple and easy-to-use protocol but lacks the advanced features of IMAP.
    POP3 (Post Office Protocol version 3) is an email protocol used for retrieving emails from a mail server. It allows users to download and locally store their emails on their devices. POP3 was introduced as an update to POP2 in 1988, aiming to improve the reliability and efficiency of email retrieval.
    • Port: POP3 typically operates on port 110.
    • Connection: POP3 uses a client-server model where the email client connects to the mail server.
    • Authentication: POP3 supports basic authentication using a username and password.
    • Commands: POP3 defines a set of commands including LIST, RETR, DELE, QUIT, etc., to manipulate emails on the server.
    • Message Handling: POP3 allows users to retrieve and delete emails from the server, but does not support organizing emails into folders.
  4. 4
    Exchange ActiveSync is a proprietary email protocol developed by Microsoft. It is used to synchronize email, contacts, and calendar data between a server and mobile devices.
    Exchange ActiveSync is a proprietary email protocol developed by Microsoft that allows users to synchronize email, calendar, contacts, and tasks between a client device and a Microsoft Exchange Server.
    • Version: 16.0 (Build 6508.1)
    • Authentication: Supports basic, NTLM, and certificate-based authentication methods
    • Synchronization: Enables real-time push synchronization with Exchange Server
    • Device Management: Allows remote management of devices via policies defined by Exchange Server
    • Message Formatting: Supports HTML and plain text formatting for emails
  5. 5
    Webmail is not an email protocol but a web-based email service that allows users to access their email messages using a web browser. It is a popular alternative to desktop email clients.
    Webmail is a type of email service that allows users to access their emails through a web browser instead of using a dedicated email client. It is a convenient and widely used method of managing emails online.
    • Accessibility: Accessible from any device with an internet connection and a web browser.
    • User Interface: Provides a user-friendly interface for composing, sending, receiving, and organizing emails.
    • Server Storage: Emails are stored on remote servers, allowing users to access their emails from anywhere.
    • Security: Offers various security measures like encryption, spam filters, and virus scanners to protect user data.
    • Attachment Handling: Supports sending and receiving attachments with emails.
  6. 6
    POP4 is a proposed email protocol that is expected to replace POP3. It is still in the development stage and is not widely used.
    POP4 (Post Office Protocol version 4) is an email protocol that allows users to retrieve and download their emails from a remote mail server to their local device. It is one of the most popular email retrieval protocols.
    • Protocol Type: Application Layer Protocol
    • Port Number: 110
    • Security: No built-in encryption (plain text)
    • Authentication: Username and password
    • Commands: USER, PASS, LIST, RETR, DELE, QUIT, STAT, etc.
  7. 7
    IMAPS is a secure version of IMAP that uses SSL/TLS encryption to protect email messages. It is commonly used by email clients to securely access email messages stored on a remote server.
    IMAPS (Internet Message Access Protocol Secure) is an email protocol that allows clients to access and manage their email messages stored on a remote mail server. It provides a secure and encrypted communication channel between the client and the server, ensuring the privacy and integrity of the email data.
    • Protocol: IMAPS
    • Port: 993
    • Encryption: TLS/SSL
    • Authentication: SASL, username/password
    • Commands: SELECT, FETCH, STORE, SEARCH, etc.
  8. 8
    SMTPS is a secure version of SMTP that uses SSL/TLS encryption to protect email messages during transmission. It is commonly used by email clients to securely send email messages to a remote server.
    SMTPS (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol Secure) is a secure version of the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) used for sending and receiving email messages. It adds an additional layer of security by using Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption to secure the communication between the email client and the email server.
    • Protocol: SMTPS
    • Encryption: TLS or SSL
    • Port: 465
    • Authentication: Implemented through SMTP AUTH extension
    • Message Size: Maximum message size is negotiated between server and client
  9. 9
    MAPI is a Microsoft proprietary email protocol that allows email clients to access email messages stored on a Microsoft Exchange server. It is commonly used by Microsoft Outlook.
    MAPI (Messaging Application Programming Interface) is a protocol used by email clients to communicate with email servers. It provides a set of functions and libraries that enable applications to send, receive, and manipulate email messages.
    • Version: 1.0
    • Platform: Windows
    • Object Model: Component Object Model (COM)
    • Transport Protocols: SMTP, NNTP, MHTML, WebDAV
    • Authentication: Kerberos, NTLM, Basic
  10. 10
    EWS is a Microsoft proprietary protocol that allows email clients to access email messages, contacts, and calendar data stored on a Microsoft Exchange server. It is commonly used by Microsoft Outlook and other email clients.
    EWS (Exchange Web Services) is a web service protocol provided by Microsoft Exchange Server for accessing and managing email, calendar, contact, and task data. It allows users to interact with Exchange Server across multiple platforms and devices.
    • Name: Exchange Web Services (EWS)
    • Version: 2016
    • Protocol: HTTP(S) based
    • Authentication: Supports various authentication methods including NTLM, OAuth, and Kerberos
    • Supported Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and other platforms

Missing your favorite email protocol?


Ranking factors for popular email protocol

  1. Adoption rate
    Check how widely used the protocol is by individuals, businesses, and email service providers.
  2. Security features
    Evaluate the encryption and authentication mechanisms offered by the protocol to protect the confidentiality and integrity of email messages.
  3. Interoperability
    Determine how well the protocol interacts with other email protocols and third-party applications, such as email clients and email servers.
  4. Performance and scalability
    Assess the protocol's ability to handle large volumes of email traffic and support a growing user base without compromising speed or reliability.
  5. Message retrieval and synchronization
    Consider the protocol's support for email retrieval, synchronization, and management across multiple devices, including desktop computers, laptops, and mobile phones.
  6. Ease of use and configuration
    Evaluate whether the protocol is user-friendly and easy to set up and maintain for both end-users and administrators.
  7. Standardization and industry support
    Analyze whether the protocol is an open standard or a proprietary solution and the level of support it receives from industry organizations, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
  8. Accessibility and compatibility
    Determine the protocol's compatibility with different operating systems, devices, and network infrastructures, including IPv6 support and mobile data networks.
  9. Extensibility and customization
    Assess the protocol's ability to support additional features and functionalities through plug-ins, extensions, or custom-built solutions.
  10. Online resources and community
    Review the availability of documentation, user forums, and technical support resources to help users troubleshoot and resolve issues with the email protocol.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular email protocol. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or protocol is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 180 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Movers & Shakers

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each protocol once every 24 hours. The rank of each protocol is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular email protocol

Email has become an integral part of our daily lives, connecting individuals and businesses across the globe. However, not many people are aware of the technicalities behind the transmission of an email from one computer to another. The email protocol is the set of rules and standards that govern the exchange of electronic messages between users. There are several email protocols in use today, but the most popular ones are POP3, IMAP, and SMTP. Each protocol has its own unique characteristics, advantages, and limitations. In this article, we will explore these protocols in detail and help you understand which one is the most popular and why.

Share this article