Difference Between TCP and UDP

Both of these are connection protocols. Out of these two, TCP is a connection-oriented one while the UDP is connectionless. A major difference between them is their speed. UDP is much faster than TCP. It has a much more effective protocol because it is simpler and faster. On the other hand, TCP allows retransmission of data packets (lost ones)- something that the UDP doesn’t offer. Another major difference between TCP and UDP is that UDP does not work on end-to-end communications. Conversely, TCP delivers data in the intended order to the server from the user (and vice versa). In fact, UDP also does not check a receiver’s readiness. 

Before we discover the difference between TCP and UDP in further detail, let us know a bit more about them.

What is TCP?

TCP is an abbreviation for Transmission Control Protocol. It is a connection-oriented protocol. It means that after establishing a stable connection, one can easily transmit data in two directions. TCP comes with built-in systems. They help in checking errors and guarantee the delivery of data in the same order of sending. Thus, TCP is the perfect protocol for transferring information like data files, images, web pages, and more.

While this protocol is inherently reliable, the feedback mechanisms working with it also result in a larger overhead. It translates to greater use of the bandwidth available in your network.

What is UDP?

UDP is an abbreviation for User Datagram Protocol. It is a connectionless, simple Internet protocol that requires no recovery and error-checking services. The use of UDP causes zero overhead for opening, maintaining, or terminating any connection. It sends data continuously to any recipient, irrespective of whether they receive it or not.

UDP isn’t an ideal protocol for viewing a webpage, sending an email, or downloading any file. But one can largely prefer it in cases of real-time communications such as broadcasts or multi-task network transmission.

Difference Between TCP and UDP

Parameter TCP UDP
Definition TCP is a communication-based protocol. One can use it for the transmission of data over the network between systems. The data transmission occurs in the form of packets.

TCP includes error-checking techniques, guarantees data delivery, and maintains the order of data and information packets.

UDP is similar to the TCP protocol. But it does not guarantee data recovery and error-checking services.

If a user deploys this protocol, the data will get continuously sent, irrespective of any issues with the receiver.

Design This protocol is connection-oriented. This protocol is connectionless.
Transmission of Data Data transmission in TCP occurs in a particular sequence. It means that the data packets arrive in the intended order at the receiver’s end. Sequencing of data does not occur in the case of UDP. It means that a user can implement ordering only by managing it by the application layer.
Speed TCP is comparatively slower than UDP. UDP is faster as compared to TCP.
Efficiency TCP is less efficient as compared to UDP. UDP is more efficient as compared to TCP.
Retransmission It is possible to retransmit data in TCP- just in case any packet is lost in the way, and a user needs to resend it. It is not possible to retransmit data packets in UDP in the same way TCP does.
Status of Connection TCP requires a very established connection for data transmission. One needs to close the connection once the transmission of data is complete. UCP is a connectionless protocol. So it doesn’t require overhead to open, maintain, or terminate a connection.
Guarantee of Delivery TCP guarantees data delivery to the destination receiver/router. UDP does not offer any guarantee regarding data delivery to the destination receiver/router.
Sequencing of Data TCP is capable of sequencing data. It rearranges the data packets in a specific order. UDP is incapable of sequencing data. It has no fixed order, and all the packets remain independent of each other.
Size of Header The size of a Header in TCP is 20 bytes. The size of a Header in UDP is 8 bytes.
Checking of Errors It offers an extensive acknowledgment of data and error checking. It follows basic mechanisms of data checking like checksums.
Broadcasting TCP does not support broadcasting. UDP supports broadcasting.
Transferring Method TCP reads data using the byte system. Every message transmits to the segment boundaries. UDP packets have defined boundaries. It sends every packet individually and checks for the integrity of data on its arrival.
Reliability TCP guarantees data delivery to the destination route and offers support for error checking. Thus, it is more reliable as compared to the UDP protocol. UDP offers support for only basic error checking using the checksum data blocks. It also doesn’t guarantee data delivery to the destination as compared to that of TCP.
Optimal Use Mostly HTTP, HTTPS, POP, SMTP, FTP, etc., utilize the TCP protocol. Mostly DNS, VoIP, media streaming, video conferencing systems, etc., utilize the UDP protocol.
Weight The TCP protocol is heavy-weight. It needs a total of three data packets for the setting up of a socket connection prior to sending any user data. The UDP protocol is lightweight. No ordering of messages, tracking connections, etc., are present.
Acknowledgment segments TCP has Acknowledgement segments. UDP does not have any Acknowledgement segments.
Handshake Protocol TCP uses a handshake protocol for establishing connections like SYN-ACK, SYN, ACK, etc. UDP uses no handshake protocol since it is connectionless.
  • TCP lets users set up/establish a connection between various types of computers.
  • It offers support for many routing protocols.
  • It does not depend on the operating system for operation.
  • Internetworking is possible between organizations using the TCP protocol.
  • The TCP/IP model has a client-server architecture that is highly scalable.
  • TCP supports various routing protocols.
  • UDP never restricts the users to a communication model that is connection-based.
  • The startup latency in any distributed application with UDP remains low.
  • It also offers multicast and broadcast transmission.
  • The recipient of UDP packets can unmanage them. It also includes the block boundaries.
  • UDP can also make up for data loss.
  • It offers small transactions like the DNS lookup.
  • UDP is bandwidth-intensive. Thus, it endures packet loss.
  • A user cannot ask for multicast or broadcast transmission with TCP.
  • It has no block boundaries. So, a user needs to create this on their own.
  • It offers various features that a user may not require. As a result, it wastes time, effort, or bandwidth of the operating network.
  • The transport layer of the TCP model offers zero guarantee of delivery of packets.
  • It is not very easy to replace a protocol in TCP/IP.
  • TCP does not offer a clear separation of interfaces, services, and protocols.
  • A packet may not reach its intended receiver or may reach twice iN a UDP protocol.
  • It has no flow control and congestion control. Thus, the implementation of this protocol is a user application’s job.
  • The routers stay quite careless with the UDP protocol. In case of a collision, they never retransmit.
  • UDP suffers from packet loss, while UDP doesn’t.

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