Difference Between TCP and UDP


Main Difference

The terms used on the internet are very complicated and can confuse the best of minds. Because of the technical language always being used it is not easy to decipher the exact meaning of everything, therefore, most people make their own mind up about a specific definition of a word and then use it accordingly. Two such terms which are generally used without knowing their exact meaning are TCP and UDP. How they differ from each other is explained in the lines that will follow. Internet protocol is the group of regulations which exist to work on the internet or any network and is used for sharing data. These two terms are two different ways of transmitting this data. One is known as Transmission Control Protocol while the other is called User Datagram Protocol. The main difference between these two is that TCP uses connections to send and receive data over the internet while UDP does not require connections to send data. In TCP data is sent over the network quickly but in UDP data is sent in different segments. Information is sent and obtained from various computers in transmission control protocol but in universal datagram protocol, the information is sent over the network and their communication ends. It can be concurred from this that TCP is safer as compared to UDP. Most websites which have to carry a bundle of material from one place to another rely more on TCP because of the safety factor while most applications and games which need data to be sent efficiently use UDP because of its direct function. Therefore, it can be accessed that most websites prefer transmission control protocol, but most applications and games prefer user datagram protocol. For sending data, TCP inherits it in the form of bytes which are sent over the network without any characterization of their types and are considered as one entity. UDP send different packages which are checked along with their boundaries, and the original information is transmitted across the network. Data is arranged in a specific order and requires the different packet to create a connection while UDP does not organize information hence there are no packages needed. It can, therefore, be said that TCP is heavier than UDP. Another explanation of both these networks is given below.

Comparison Chart

Transmission control protocolUser datagram protocol
Data can be sent and receivedData can only be transmitted
Arrangement flow control and acknowledgmentNone
It can be assured that data will be receivedIt cannot be assured that data will be received

What is TCP?

It stands for transmission control protocol which is a way of sending and receiving data over the internet. TCP has many features which make is favorable for websites who want to share and obtain information at the same time. It is connection based where the material is sent in the form of streams and received by the other computers which result in the creation of a link. It is reliable, and all the information which is moved from one place is guaranteed to reach the other place in the particular order which they were sent. This order is maintained because of three packets present which ensure the exact numbering of data sent, which makes TCP heavier in comparison. There is flow control, and acknowledgment is sent whenever all the information completes its transaction. If the data is not sent, the transmission control protocol will try to send it again until it is delivered. All these features make it the most common protocol available.


What is UDP?

It is known as user datagram protocol and in some cases, it is also called universal datagram protocol. It is more often used by applications and games which require that the data is sent quickly and in bulks. There is no connection among the networks because there is no requirement of the information needed back. The material is directed in the form of messages, and there is no maintenance of order, this results because UDP does not make use of packets which maintain the sequence and therefore is lighter in weight. There is also no assurance that the information which is sent, has been received because it does not provide the acknowledgment feature. The flow maintenance feature also lacks. It also aids in features such as video streaming and voice recording, and once the data is sent in the form of different segments, there is no re-sending if the data is no delivered.

Differences in a Nutshell

  1. TCP is known as transmission control protocol while UDP is known as user datagram protocol.
  2. TCP depends on connections while there are no connections in UDP.
  3. Data can be sent and received in TCP, but data can only be transmitted in UDP.
  4. TCP is heavier because it uses packets to establish connections but UDP does not need any containers for this purpose and is light weight.
  5. TCP is reliable for the transferring of data while UDP is less reliable.
  6. There is arrangement flow control and acknowledgment in TCP, but these three options are not available in UDP.
  7. TCP is used more by different websites while UDP is preferred by apps and games.
  8. TCP sends material in the form of streams which do not have any structure while UDP sends data in the form of messages.
  9. Overhead is added to the network in TCP while no overhead is added in the UDP.
  10. It can be assured that data will be received in TCP while there are no assurances if the data will reach the other side in UDP.


TCP and UDP are two terms which belong to the same family but are very different from each other. There are many differences between them which have been mentioned above that help in creating a clear understanding of how they differ and then help people how they are working and what exactly goes on between them.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss