How to Configure an IMAP Account

What is IMAP?

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is a method of accessing and storing messages on a mail server. When you use IMAP, your mail server will permanently store your messages.

An IMAP email account differs from a POP3 account in that messages are stored on the server at all times, instead of being downloaded to your computer. It is useful if you wish to keep your mail synchronized on all of your devices (e.g. your desktop, phone, tablet, etc). The disadvantage of such an approach is that you will use more disk space, and the service could be slightly slower if your account has a lot of messages. However, this can be remedied by periodically deleting or locally archiving your old messages from the server.

Recommended IMAP Configurations

SSL Secured IMAP connection (using the mail subdomain)

This is the recommended setup for most users:

IMAP Server:
IMAP Username:
IMAP SSL: Enabled
IMAP SSL Port: 993

This method requires that your domain and mail subdomain both be connected to WHC, and that SSL be enabled. This is the case by default on most new web hosting accounts.

SSL Secured IMAP connection (using the server hostname)

This method should be used if you don’t have SSL on your domain, or if you are migrating your email service from one server to another. Your server’s hostname can be found in your welcome email or by contacting support.

IMAP Server:
IMAP Username:
IMAP SSL: Enabled
IMAP SSL Port: 993

Unsecured IMAP connection (using the mail subdomain)

This method is only recommended if the previous two don’t work. Unsecured connections do not benefit from encryption and are generally considered unsafe.

IMAP Server:
IMAP Username:
IMAP SSL: Disabled (unsecured)
IMAP Port: 143

Which IMAP Configuration Should I Use?

Configuration #1 (Secure IMAP using the mail subdomain) works best with the majority of WHC’s services that include automatic SSL. This includes: Web Hosting (Pro & Enterprise plans), Reseller Hosting, Cloud Servers, Dedicated Servers and Managed WordPress with Email.

Configuration #2 (Secure IMAP using the server hostname) works best with services that don’t include SSL, such as the Web Hosting Starter plan. It’s also the right choice if your DNS isn’t managed by WHC, or if you’re migrating between servers.

Configuration #3 (Unsecured IMAP) should only be used if all other methods don’t work for you. We don’t recommend using this configuration in the long term.


1. Why have my emails disappeared from my devices?

All of your devices (your computer, smartphone, tablet, etc), should be connected via the IMAP protocol. If you have at least one device which is using POP3 protocol, this will download the emails from the server and will delete them permanently from the server and all synchronized devices.

POP3 may still be used in parallel with IMAP, if the POP3 configured device is set to leave the messages on the server. We do not recommend this configuration, as any misconfiguration may lead to the accidental erasing of all emails.

2. Why can’t I see all my inbox subfolders on all my devices?

Depending on your email client (Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, etc), you’ll need to check the folder subscription settings. You might find out that some folders are unchecked.

Subscribing to IMAP folders in Outlook

  1. Right-click on the Inbox folder
  2. Select IMAP Folders
  3. Click the Query button
  4. Select desired folders
  5. Click Subscribe

Your folders can be accessed from the Folders List in the left panel.

Subscribing to IMAP folders in Thunderbird

  1. Go to File and click Subscribe
  2. Select desired folders
  3. Click Subscribe
  4. Click OK

Your folders can be accessed from the Folders List in the left panel.

3. My mailbox is big, how can I archive emails locally on my computer?

Depending on your email client, separate procedures are available.

Archive emails from IMAP to a local Outlook Data File (.pst)

  1. Create the Outlook Data File using the following procedure
  2. Open the newly created .pst file
  3. Drag and drop the selected emails or folders from the IMAP folders into the locally-mounted .pst file
The archived emails will reside inside your computer ONLY and will no longer sync with other devices. However, this method will save storage space on the server.

Archive emails from IMAP to a local folder using Thunderbird

  1. Right-click on Local Folders and select New Folder
  2. Give your folder a name e.g. ‘Archive’
  3. Drag and drop the selected emails or folders from the IMAP folders into the newly created ‘Archive’ folder

4. I am using IMAP with my current provider. Is it easy to migrate my email accounts to WHC?

If the emails are migrated as part of cPanel account migration, and the originating cPanel uses the same email storage format as our cPanel, then the accounts will be migrated “as-is”.

If you are not using cPanel, or we encounter any kind of incompatibilities, then we provide our free WHC Email Migration Tool. All you need to do is to create the same accounts inside your new cPanel, and use the tool to synchronize the IMAP data between the source account and destination account.

Article ID: #HC5034

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