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TCP vs. UDP: Exploring the Key Differences

TCP, Transmission Control Protocol, UDP, or User Datagram Protocol are the fundamental building blocks of the internet we use today. Both TCP Vs UDP enable different, unique forms of data to pass through from a network source to a destination. The key difference between TCP and UDP is their speed, efficiency, and reliability. 

While UDP places a higher priority on efficiency and rapidity, TCP is more trustworthy. This article outlines an in-depth comparison of the TCP and UDP differences. Learning the difference between TCP and UDP will help network professionals set up the right network protocol for their organization. So, let’s start. 


Table of Content – 


What is the TCP?

The Transmission Control Protocol is known as TCP. When we need two computers to communicate, that communication must be effective and dependable. Let’s say you want to peruse a web page. Now, you’d expect the web page to comprise all the content without anything missing, right? Similarly, when you intend to download some file, you’d expect it to include all text, images, syntax, etc. This is possible with the help of a sole component – TCP. 


What is UDP?

A Transport Layer protocol is called User Datagram Protocol (UDP). The Internet Protocol family, often called the UDP/IP family, comprises UDP. It is an untrustworthy, detached protocol, unlike TCP. So establishing a connection isn’t necessary before data transmission. Low-latency, loss-tolerant communications are made possible by UDP over the network. 

Now that you have a basic idea of what TCP and UDP are, let’s jump straight into the key difference between TCP and UDP. 


Differences Between the TCP and UDP 

Exploring the Key Differences
Here is a comprehensive table representing every key difference between TCP vs UDP:

Definition It is a communication protocol that allows data to be sent via a network between systems. Data packets are transmitted in this scenario. It assures delivery, checks for errors, and maintains the order of the data packets.  The only difference between it and the TCP protocol is that this does not ensure data recovery & error-checking. Regardless of any problems on the receiving end, the data will be transferred constantly if you apply this protocol. 
Broadcasting Not Supported Supported
Sequence Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) has a feature that allows for data sequencing. This indicates that packets reach the receiver in the proper sequence.  In UDP, there’s no data sequencing. If a particular sequence is necessary, the application layer must control it. 
Type of Service TCP is a protocol that focuses on connections. Connection orientation refers to the idea that communication devices must link before transferring data and must disconnect thereafter.  The protocol that is focused on datagrams is UDP. This is due to the absence of overhead associated with creating, maintaining, or cutting off connections. UDP is effective for multicast and broadcast network communication types. 
Type of Protocol Telnet, SMTP, FTP, HTTPs, and HTTP use TCP. VoIP, RIP, SNMP, TFTP, DHCP, and DNS use UDP. 
Reliability The data transfer’s integrity and receipt in the same sequence as when it was sent are 100% guaranteed to remain intact.  The delivery of sent messages or packets cannot be guaranteed. 
Flow Control It adheres to the flow control method, which prohibits sending the receiver with excessive packets at once.  This protocol does not use such a system. 
Speed In comparison to UDP, TCP is slower.  The speed of UDP is more than the speed of TCP 
Flow of Data Data is delivered using TCP in a specific order, ensuring that packets reach the recipient in the right sequence.  Data sequencing is not present in UDP. The application layer is responsible for managing the order’s implementation.
Header Size The header’s size might range from 20 to 60 bytes.  The UDP is 8 bytes in size. 
Acknowledgment TCP leverages the idea of the three-way handshake. According to this idea, the sender will transfer the data if they receive the ACK. The lost data can also be sent again using TCP. UDP simply transfers the data without waiting for a response. 
Flow Control Mechanism To control flow, use TCP. Before sending any user data, TCP first establishes a socket connection by sending three packets. TCP controls traffic and ensures dependability.  There is no flow control mechanism in UDP. 
Applications This protocol is primarily utilized when a safe and trustworthy communication procedure, such as email, web browsing, and military services, is necessary.  This protocol serves when quick communication is necessary, but dependability is not a major concern, such as music streaming, movie streaming, game streaming, VoIP, etc. 
Error Checking TCP carries out error detection and correction. When packets are transmitted from the source improperly, they are forwarded again to the destination.  Although UDP does error checking, incorrect packets are just discarded. There is no effort made to recover from errors. 
Security Considerations The integrity and receipt of the sent data in its original order are absolutely guaranteed.  There is no assurance that the delivered messages or packets will even reach their destination. 

Essentially by understanding the key differences between TCP and UDP, you can configure the networks correctly. Now that you know the difference between TCP and UDP, let’s compare TCP Vs UDP in terms of their pros, cons, and features. 

Want to learn more about networking protocols and other cloud computing aspects? Start with the basics with this article on cloud computing architecture!


Advantages of TCP Vs UDP

Let’s look at the difference between TCP vs UDP in terms of their advantages:

TCP Advantages UDP Advantages
  • TCP focuses on connections. 
  • Before any data/message transmission, TCP creates and sets up a link between the computers of both – the sender and the receiver. 
  • To prevent congestion, it implements a congestion control policy. 
  • Enables the retransmission of data. The receiver will return any lost or unsuccessful packets to the sender. The packets might be sent again by the sender. 
  • Reorders every packet at the receiving end to perform in-order delivery. 
  • It is simpler to discover errors like damaged and missing packets. 
  • A three-step process called – retransmission, checksum, and acknowledgment is used to accomplish this. 
  • UDP can substitute TCP. 
  • It is beneficial for applications where we don’t need to combine packet sequences. 
  • It facilitates the development of low-latency links between apps and speeds up the transmission. 
  • It comes in handy for real-time or time-sensitive communications, including broadcast or multi-task network transmission. 

Disadvantages of TCP Vs UDP

Let’s look at the difference between TCP vs UDP in terms of their disadvantages:

TCP Disadvantages UDP Disadvantages
  • Compared to UDP, it takes more bandwidth and is slower. 
  • A file transfer’s beginning is unusually slow. When some data is lost, it may stop data from loading. 
  • For instance, until all of the page’s data has been transmitted, photos on a website won’t load. 
  • If the network is busy, it lowers its transfer rate, making speeds even slower. 
  • The LAN and PAN networks are not a good fit for it. 
  • It cannot use broadcast or multicast. 
  • Since there is no connectivity, data transport is not dependable. 
  • A system to recognize a successful data transfer does not exist. 
  • When faults are found, it dumps packets because it lacks error control. 
  • Routers frequently discard UDP packets in favor of TCP packets in the event of a data clash. 
  • There is no method to prevent congestion caused by multiple users consuming UDP data. 

Now that you know the pros and cons of both TCP and UDP, check out the major advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing too. 


Features of TCP Vs UDP

Let’s look at the difference between TCP vs UDP in terms of their features:

TCP Features UDP Features
  • TCP ensures tracking of the segments being sent or received by giving each segment a number. 
  • The speed of a sender’s data transfer is constrained by flow control. 
  • To guarantee dependable delivery, this is done. TCP leverages a system for error control to provide dependable data transport. 
  • TCP considers the amount of network congestion. 
  • When the amount of data is small, and the control of errors and flow is not as important, simple request-response communication is implemented. 
  • Due to UDP’s support for packet switching, it is an appropriate protocol for multicasting. 
  • Some routing update protocols, including RIP (Routing Information Protocol), employ UDP. 

Examples of TCP Vs UDP

Let’s look at the difference between TCP and UDP with the help of the examples:

TCP Examples UDP Examples
  • FTP
  • SSH
  • Email
  • Web surfing
  • Remote desktop
  • DNS
  • DHCP
  • SNMP
  • Real-time video streaming 
  • Real-time audio streaming

Choosing the Right Protocol

Now, we have learned the major difference between TCP and UPD, lets understand how to choose the right one according to your requirements. To determine which protocol to choose, one must consider what they’re doing online and the sort of data being exchanged. Online gaming is preferable while using UDP because quick data transfer virtually eliminates lag. 

Exploring the Key Differences

TCP is preferable when uploading files, such as family photos, since it guarantees that the data will arrive exactly as it was transmitted. One must evaluate the difference between TCP and UDP, compare TCP-UDP differences in terms of pros and cons, and decide what best fits their needs. 

Conclusively, TCP and UDP are both beneficial protocols. So, the choice depends on what you seek from the network protocol. 

Read more about: Osi Layers


Where is TCP used?

When it comes to the difference between TCP and UDP, TCP has the following applications: 

  • Netflix and HBO Max leverage TCP to stream pre-recorded content. 
  • Text and email messaging
  • Generic web surfing
  • File transfer between devices and apps
  • Network administration or remote device


Where is UDP used?

When it comes to the difference between TCP and UDP, UDP has the following applications: 

  • Multicasting
  • VoIP (in-app voice calling)
  • Online gaming
  • Video conferencing/chatting
  • Domain Name Systems 



Let’s summarize the differences between TCP and UDP. The speed of TCP and UDP is the primary distinction between them. Comparatively speaking, UDP is a quicker, easier, and more effective protocol. TCP, on the other hand, is dependable and has the benefit of retransmitting dropped data packets. 

Individuals can set up their networks correctly and create the conditions for the best connectivity for the organization by understanding the key difference between TCP and UDP. 

Want to become a master in TCP and UDP and other cloud computing terms? Enroll in the cloud engineering course from HeroVired and get started today!




The three differences between TCP and UDP are: 
  • TCP is slower than UDP
  • TCP is heavier than UDP
  • UDP is more efficient than TCP
TCP is more dependable, but it also moves data more slowly. Although less dependable, UDP operates more quickly.
TCP is safer than UDP. Since TCP tracks every data packet, it is more difficult to insert harmful material.

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