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Differences between the UDP and TCP protocols

March 2015

Protocols represent certain rules and regulations that are essential in order to have data communication between two entities. Internet Protocols work in sending and receiving data packets. This type of communication may be either connection-less or connection-oriented. In a connection-oriented scenario, an acknowledgement is being received by the sender from the receiver in support of a perfect transfer.Transmission Control Protocol or TCP is such a protocol. On the other hand, UDP or User Datagram Protocol is of the connection-less type where no feedback is being forwarded to the sender after delivery and the data transfer have taken place or not. Though, it's not a guaranteed method, but, once a connection is established, UDP works much faster than TCP as TCP has to rely on a feedback and accordingly, the entire 3-way handshaking takes place.

Differences between the UDP and TCP protocols




User Datagram Protocol (UDP)


It is part of the base protocols of the Internet Protocol Suite. Programs on networked computers can send short messages sometimes called datagrams. UDP does not guarantee any reliability (it happens that datagram may be out of order, duplicated, or goes missing without any notice). The fact that no checking whether all packets are actually delivered is made, UDP proves to be faster and more efficient, for applications that do not need guaranteed delivery. UDP find its uses in such situations:
  • Time-sensitive applications. The problems due to delayed packets are avoided.
  • It is also useful for servers that answer small queries from huge numbers of clients. UDP supports packet broadcast (conveys to all on local network) and multicasting (conveys to all subscribers).

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)


It is often referred to as TCP/IP due to the importance of this protocol in the Internet Protocol Suite. TCP operates at a higher level, concerned only with the two end systems, (e.g. between web browser and a web server). TCP provides reliable, sequential delivery of a stream of data from one program on one computer to another program on another computer. Common uses of TCP are:
  • e-mailing support
  • file transfer
  • Web applications.


Among its features, TCP controls message size, the rate at which messages are exchanged, and network traffic congestion. As for IP, it handles lower-level transmissions from computer to computer as a message transferred across the Internet.

Note that:


IP works by exchanging information chunks called packets. A packet is a sequence of bytes consisting of a header and a body. The header contains the packet's destination and path to be taken on the internet and the body contains the data which is being transmitted.
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Published by netty5. - Latest update by Virginia Parsons
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