Differentiate between TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol).

TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol) are two widely used transport layer protocols in computer networks. They are responsible for facilitating communication between devices over a network, but they have distinct characteristics and are suitable for different types of applications. Here's a detailed technical differentiation between TCP and UDP:

  1. Connection-Oriented vs. Connectionless:
    • TCP: Connection-oriented protocol. Before data transfer begins, a three-way handshake is established to ensure a reliable and error-free communication channel.
    • UDP: Connectionless protocol. No prior communication setup is required. Each packet is sent independently, and there is no guarantee of delivery or order.
  2. Reliability and Error Checking:
    • TCP: Provides reliable, error-checked communication. It uses mechanisms like sequence numbers, acknowledgment, and retransmission to ensure that data is delivered in the correct order and without errors.
    • UDP: Does not guarantee reliability or error checking. It is a "best-effort" protocol, meaning that it sends the data without checking if it reaches the destination successfully.
  3. Flow Control and Congestion Control:
    • TCP: Implements flow control and congestion control mechanisms. Flow control prevents fast senders from overwhelming slow receivers, and congestion control helps manage network congestion by adjusting the transmission rate.
    • UDP: Does not implement flow control or congestion control. It relies on the application layer to handle these aspects if needed.
  4. Header Size:
    • TCP: Has a larger header size compared to UDP. This is due to the additional control information needed for the three-way handshake, sequence numbers, acknowledgment, and other features.
    • UDP: Has a smaller header size, making it more lightweight. This is advantageous for real-time applications where minimizing overhead is crucial.
  5. Order of Delivery:
    • TCP: Ensures the order of delivery. Data sent by the sender is received in the same order by the receiver.
    • UDP: Does not guarantee the order of delivery. Packets may arrive at the destination out of order.
  6. Use Cases:
    • TCP: Suited for applications where data integrity and reliability are critical, such as file transfer, email, and web browsing.
    • UDP: Suitable for real-time applications where low latency is essential, such as online gaming, video streaming, and VoIP. In these cases, occasional packet loss is acceptable, and the focus is on minimizing delay.
  7. Example Ports:
    • TCP: Examples include port 80 for HTTP (web), port 443 for HTTPS (secure web), and port 25 for SMTP (email).
    • UDP: Examples include port 53 for DNS (domain name system), port 67/68 for DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol), and ports used in multimedia streaming applications.