The Basics of Networking | TCP and UDP

TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol) are the two most commonly used protocols for transmitting data over a network. Both protocols are used for different types of data transmission and have their own unique features and characteristics.

Simple Definition of TCP

TCP is a connection-oriented protocol, which means that a virtual connection is established between the sender and the receiver before any data is transferred. This connection is maintained throughout the duration of the data transfer, and the receiver acknowledges receipt of each packet of data. This ensures that all data is received correctly and in the proper order. Additionally, TCP includes flow control and error-checking mechanisms to ensure that data is transferred efficiently and reliably. Due to these features, TCP is often used for applications that require high reliability, such as web browsing, email, and file transfer.

Simple Definition of UDP

UDP, on the other hand, is a connectionless protocol, which means that there is no virtual connection established between the sender and the receiver. Instead, data is sent as individual packets, with no guarantee that they will be received or in the order they were sent. Because of this, UDP does not include flow control or error-checking mechanisms. However, this also means that UDP is faster and has lower overhead than TCP, making it suitable for applications that require low latency and high speed, such as online gaming, video streaming, and VoIP.

The Differences at a Glance


About the Author:

Andres Sarmiento, CCIE # 53520
With over 18 years of professional experience, Andres is a specialist in Unified Communications and Collaboration technologies, Enterprise Networks, and Network Security. He has consulted for numerous companies in South Florida, including Financial Institutions, on behalf of Cisco Systems. Andres has played a key role in several high-profile implementations, utilizing Cisco technologies such as Data Center, UC & Collaboration, Contact Center Express, Routing & Switching, Security, and Hosted IPT Service Provider infrastructures.

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