TCP vs UDP: Detail Explained

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On the internet, two of the most important protocols are TCP and UDP. But what are they, and why are they so important? In this post, we’ll take a closer look at both protocols and see how they differ. We’ll also discuss some of the benefits of each protocol, and when you might want to use them. By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of TCP and UDP, and you’ll be able to choose the right protocol for your needs.

What is TCP?

The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is one of the protocols in the TCP/IP suite, which is mainly used to transfer information between computers on a network. TCP provides reliable data transfer by using techniques like error checking and correction, packet retransmission, and flow control.

What does this mean?

It means that if your computer sends a message to another computer over the network, it will receive an acknowledgment saying that the message was received correctly. Plus, if one or more packets are lost during transmission, they’ll be resent until they’re successfully received. These features make TCP ideal for services where errors can’t be tolerated (like streaming video).

Where is TCP used?

  • Network File System (NFS)
  • Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
  • Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
  • Telnet

Use TCP for

  • Services where errors can’t be tolerated (like streaming video)
  • Applications that require reliability

What is UDP?

The User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is another protocol in the TCP/IP suite, and it’s often used for streaming media and games. Unlike TCP, UDP doesn’t guarantee that packets will be delivered or received in the correct order. This makes UDP faster and more efficient than TCP, but it also means that errors can cause data to be lost or corrupted.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re playing a game or watching a movie online, using UDP may provide a better experience since it won’t be slowed down by error checking. However, if you’re sending important data like passwords or bank information, you’ll want to use TCP instead to ensure that the data is delivered correctly.

Where is UDP used?

  • Domain Name System (DNS)
  • Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP)
  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

Use UDP for

  • Streaming media and games
  • Applications that don’t require reliability
  • Databases that don’t require ACID properties.

TCP vs UDP: What’s the difference?

One way to think about TCP vs UDP is to compare them to post offices. With post office boxes, you know exactly where your letter will be sent and when it will arrive. So if there’s a problem with your mailbox or the postal service can’t deliver your letter, they’ll send it back until they’re able to successfully deliver it. Plus, they do all of this for around $5 per month! 

With regular mail delivery, you don’t have any control over where your letter will go or when it will arrive. This means that letters may travel through many different locations before they reach their final destination (if they do at all).

Since you might put something very valuable in an envelope (like a check), you want to be sure that it’ll arrive safely. This is where the reliability of post office boxes comes in.

TCP is like a post office box – it’s reliable and provides guaranteed delivery. UDP is like regular mail delivery – it’s faster and less reliable, but also cheaper.

Benefits of TCP and UDP

Both the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP) can be used to transfer data, so what are some of their benefits?

Why use TCP?

Reliable: Guarantees delivery 

Fast: Full acknowledgments make it unnecessary for receivers to send an acknowledgment for every packet they receive. This means that latency is t increased as packets are sent. Also, error checking ensures that if one or more packets are lost during transmission, they’ll be resent until successfully received.

Well-known port numbers: Allowed by Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). TCP has assigned well-known port numbers to specific TCP services like HTTP, SSH, etc. See the IANA list of ports and services.

Connection-oriented: A TCP connection is made before data can be transferred. This ensures that the recipient is ready to receive data when it arrives (i.e., there will always be a receiver). Also, since packets are received in order (due to sequence numbers), reassembling them into their original form is easy even if they arrive out of order.

Why use UDP?

Fast: Full acknowledgments make it unnecessary for receivers to send an acknowledgment for every packet they receive. This means that latency is t increased as packets are sent. Also, error checking ensures that if one or more packets are lost during transmission, they’ll be resent until successfully received.

Well-known port numbers: Allowed by Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). UDP has assigned well-known port numbers to specific UDP services like DNS, NTP, etc. See the IANA list of ports and services.

Connectionless: No connection needs to be made before data can be transferred. This allows for more parallelism as multiple packets can be sent at the same time without waiting for a response from the receiver.

Unreliable: Packets may not be received in order or at all, and there is no guarantee that they will be resent if lost.

Which one should you use?

Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on your needs. If you need a reliable way to send information, TCP is the best option. If you’re streaming media or playing games, UDP may be a better choice since it doesn’t have the same reliability requirements. As always, consult with an expert if you’re not sure which protocol is right for you.

Final Words: TCP vs UDP

This article discussed the difference between TCP and UDP concerning how they operate, what their benefits are in different situations, and when it is appropriate to use one over the other. It also explored some of the misconceptions about their performance relative to each other. Hopefully, this has helped you better understand these two protocols so that your network can run smoothly without any issues!

Gurpreet Singh
Gurpreet Singh

Hey! I"m Gurpreet Singh and I Have 7+ Years of experience in the Network & Security Domain as well as the Cloud Infra Domain. I am Certified with Cisco ( CCNA ), CheckPoint ( CCSA ), 1xAWS, 3xAZURE, and 3xNSE. So I love to share my tech knowledge with you.

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