Difference Between TCP vs UDP

Difference Between TCP vs UDP

Today, we will identify the difference between TCP and UDP and understand how these two contrasting protocols operate and enhance our ability to use the internet.

Read on for an exact definition of each protocol type in conjunction with a quick reference table that will serve to break down their key distinctions to make it easier for you to compare the two at a brief glance.

Definition of TCP

The definition of TCP, or Transmission Control Protocol, is a means of streaming information effectively across the global web in such a fashion that its integrity and intended order is always preserved.

We can define TCP as an Internet Protocol (IP) designed to accommodate the consistent and secure exchange of data online. It is widely regarded as being the most secure means of sharing information on the internet thanks to its complex structure.

Although the intricacies of the protocol are fairly complex at its core, this type of protocol features something known as a three-way handshake system.

This handshake system revolves around three steps. First, a user who wants to share information acknowledges the presence of a receiving server. Second, this server then acknowledges it is ready to receive data. Third, there is a subsequent “agreement” between both ends that the intended information can then be securely sent.

This agreement is what helps to separate UDP vs TCP because in the former protocol, there is no such interconnectivity and communication between the sending and receiving destinations.

Definition of UDP

The definition of UDP, or User Datagram Protocol, is a simple internet protocol for the transfer of data and information that prioritizes speed over certain quality verification measures.

The difference between TCP and UDP largely revolves around the reliability and integrity of the information being shared by one (TCP) compared to the other, which sends data across in a much more basic fashion.

While TCP guarantees that the data being shared is protected against loss due to connection drop outs and has built-in refresh features and other additional countermeasures to make sure that the data being sent is precisely as intended, these features simply do not exist with UDP.

We can define UDP as a very simplistic transfer process type where the data is essentially sent in “good faith” once the sender is happy that the information entered is ready to go. After it has been sent, there is simply no guarantee that it will arrive at its destination in the precise form initially desired.

This may sound like it is not an ideal way to transfer data at all, but the truth is that we simply do not always require the additional complexities involved with TCP. Sometimes, rapidly sending data quickly from one place to another that is exactly relevant to the situation is the priority.

Main Differences Between TCP vs UDP

Now, we will highlight the variations between TCP vs UDP in a quick reference table.

Basis of ComparisonTCPUDP
Practical purposeFor situations where data preservation and security are criticalFor less crucial situations where data transfer does not need to be guaranteed and reliable
Is a connection required?Requires a connectionDoes not require a connection
Data sharingData is shared as a streamData is shared in chunks
Level of reliabilityVery reliableLow reliability
Size of headersUsually around 20 bytesTypically 8 bytes
Often used forEmailingVoIP
SpeedMuch slower due to complexityMuch faster due to simplicity

Difference Between TCP and UDP: Conclusion

In summary, although this subject may seem confusing at first, we are confident that after reading today’s post you will now finally have a better idea of what these two protocols are and how they work.

You do not need to understand the deep intricacies involved in their operation to be able to summarize why you would use each data transfer type and where they would be appropriately applied.

To make the comparison easier, always remember that TCP is a complex and guaranteed sharing process whereas UDP is the opposite and is much simpler, less reliable, and faster. Our quick reference table is here to help you anytime you get confused about this subject going forward.