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TCP is different from UDP because of its reliability. Both of these protocols send and receive messages, but TCP is more reliable because it guarantees to send the message in the same order.

UDP on the other hand is not as reliable as TCP because it does not guarantees to send the message. But UDP is fast and is recommended for streaming and online gaming purposes.

Do you wish to know the major differences between TCP vs UDP? This guide helps in understanding the two protocols in simple terms.

TCP vs UDP Comparison Table

Here is a quick comparison between the two protocols:

TCP is a connection-oriented protocol which means establishing a connection is required by communicating devices before and after the data is transmitted. UDP is a datagram oriented protocol which is a connectionless protocol that continuously sends datagram to recipients.
The delivery of data is guaranteed which makes it reliable. The delivery of data is not guaranteed.
It has an extensive error-checking mechanism It has a basic error-checking system  called checksums
There is a sequencing of data There is no sequencing of data
It is comparatively slower It is comparatively faster an simpler
The length header is 20-80 bytes It has a fixed length header of 8 bytes.
It doesn’t support broadcasting Broadcasting is supported


What is TCP?

TCP commonly known as Transmission Control Protocol is a connection oriented protocol that are used by computers to communicated over the internet.

It guarantees the delivery of data and in the same order as it was sent. It is reliable, but has slow speed. When you talk to your friend online, send an email or surf the page through your browser, you tend to send data over the internet. Surprisingly, you send the data in small packets and that is what TCP is.

What is UDP?

Unlike TCP, UDP is a connection-less protocol. It also perform the same function that is sending data packets over the internet. UDP stands for User Datagram Protocol.

This protocol sends data packet at much faster pace as compared to TCP. This is why it does not follow error-checking process at all. It overlooks reliability factor that makes UDP a lightweight protocol.

TCP and UDP: What are the Major Differences?

As already discussed, both TCP and UDP are used to make online communications efficient between the server and client. Here is the list of some of the other key differences you should consider before selecting your preferred internet protocol:

  • Security
  • Speed
  • Connection
  • Header
  • Ports
  • Usage
  • Ordering


TCP is more complex than UDP, which makes it difficult to spoof. Since TCP guarantees that the data is sent and received in an uninterrupted form, it means that there will be no missing or tempered data. UDP does not guarantees that the message will be received.


UDP is faster than TCP because TC has a lot of work to do. First, it establishes a connection, then performs error-check, and guarantees that the file is received in a perfect order.


TCP is connection focused and UDP is connectionless. TCP creates connection between the server and client before sending data packets.

You may term the above described process as TCP handshaking process. In case of UDP, you will not find such kind of connection. data packets are usually sent on individual basis without taking reliability into account.


UDP has a fixed 8 bytes which is considerably much smaller than TCP and that is the reason why it fast. TCP header is 20 bytes and takes some time for the data to send and receive.


Both of these protocols use ports. Your computer can run both the application on Port 80. For example: IP address + (TCP or UDP protocol ) + Port number.


TCP is needed when there is high reliability required and timing of little to no concern:

  • World Wide Web (HTTP,HTTPS)
  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
  • Email
  • Secure Shell (SSH)

UDP is required when speed and efficiency is of major concern:

  • VPN
  • DNS
  • Video streaming
  • Live TV broadcasting
  • Online games
  • VoIP services


The data sent through TCP will guarantee that it will be received in the same order. However, this is not the case with UDP because it sends data in any order.

TCP vs UDP Common Differences

Here is an analysis of the two protocols based on multiple factors:

Basis for Analysis TCP UDP
Connection Type Connection oriented Connection less
Speed Slow Fast
Meaning Transmission Control Protocol User Datagram protocol
Size of header 20 bytes 8 bytes
Acknowledgement gives acknowledgement Does not give acknowledgment
Reliability  Yes No
Congestion control Yes No
Applications Email, web browsing, file transfer Gaming, video conferencing, streaming


Wrapping Up

Selecting the right protocol really depends upon your need. If you want something fast and quick, then UDP is appropriate. But if you want reliable connection, there is only one protocol and that is TCP.

If you belong to a corporate world, TCP turns out to be the right option for you. In situations like sharing and handling crucial data, you are bound to rely on reliability. Thus, you should use TCP protocol. Likewise, you can select TCP to perform banking or financial transactions anonymously.

On the other hand, if speed is your ultimate choice, opt UDP protocol without a shadow of doubt. In case you want to play online games with better speeds, use UDP protocol again.