Zoho Discontinues IMAP, POP & Active Sync for New Free Subscriptions

Seven numbered mailboxes in front of a wall

What on earth happened?

I recently created a new free Zoho account for a client. The domain validation worked well and I was able to create the email accounts under the domain. I remembered that I had to enable AutoSyncIMAP and POP to make sure they could use their emails on their phones and mail applications like Outlook and Thunderbird. So when I clicked on the Enable button, something strange happened! A really weird error message was displayed and it read:

Available exclusively with the paid plans

“Whaaaaa? What just happened?” I wondered what I may have missed. So I ran a Google search and discovered other users had the same issues. And then I saw this – a response from Gopinath, a member of the Zoho Mail Team:

We as a company have always been focused on customer satisfaction and enabling budding businesses to run their business with our cloud software, rather than on profits. Our generous free and ad-free email hosting plan is a testament towards keeping the spirit of customer happiness at the forefront. However, as our service has grown massively in terms of user base and patronage, we have taken a few measures to improve the quality of our service and support. And we are certain to continue offering a free email hosting plan forever. So rather than reducing the number of mailboxes or storage in the free plan to, we have restricted IMAP/POP access, email forwarding and active sync, which will be available only in the paid plans. This means users in the free plan will be restricted to managing email through the seamless ad-free experience of our webmail, which is feature packed for power use and in no way inferior to external email clients. We hope it is fair to expect patronage for our webmail in lieu of the free and 100% ad-free email experience. We sincerely hope that you continue to enjoy ZOHO mail and its services to the best of its capabilities.

Should I be mad with Zoho Corp. for this change?

I don’t think so!

They want to keep providing a free service and decided to make some changes to stay afloat. They didn’t want to decrease the 5GB space allocation per email. If they did, that would have been a total disaster!

I think it was a hard decision they had to make – taking down a key feature. So, yeah, I’m sad it’s gone but happy Zoho’s still offering free email service for custom domains.

Gopinath also said:


We have made changes, so that the email accounts which are created from or after December 4th 2017 will not have the POP/IMAP/Email Forwarding/Active Sync.

We have made the changes in our pricing page in prior.

Please refer below :


The good news is that IMAP service still remained for users who registered before the 4th of December 2017. That was really really nice of Zoho, to be honest, I’m really grateful to them for that!

What does this mean for me going forward?

So here I am, trying to mould the words to tell my new clients who I sign up on the free Zoho platform that they will not be able to check their emails using a mail client. If they needed to check their emails, they could only do that from a web browser – and that would be a huge problem because that will mean they won’t be getting notifications from received mails!

So clients now have there options

  1. Upgrade to the USD 24 per year per email account plan to access the IMAP feature
  2. Go full web and use their web browsers to work their emails, or
  3. Switch to another service that offers IMAP connections.

Zoho’s services are amazingly great and I have never had any problems with them for the years I have used them. I will have to provide these three options and see which my new clients will opt for.

This change will definitely not exclude Zoho as an option for email services I will present to my clients but it won’t be as good as it was. I wonder if other services will spring up or if Zoho will re-enable this feature or swap this removal with another feature. I really hope Zoho considers the number of email accounts and not the allotted space per account!

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