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Transmission control protocol (TCP) explained.

TCP – What is it?

Transmission Control Protocol, or also for short called just TCP, is a communication standard. Software applications benefit from it for exchanging data. Its purpose is to improve efficiency, not speed. 

The packets of information can reach their destination out of order or get lost when they are transported. TCP serves to ensure that they will arrive at their target and without the need to be rearranged. In case a packet is not delivered in a specific timeframe, TCP requests re-transmission. It handles the communication between the two applications through the entire exchange. It assures the delivery and sending for both parties and also verifies that packets are accurate. TCP is a popular protocol in network communication and is ordinarily used on top of IP. Usually, the Internet protocol stack is associated with TCP/IP.

Usage of TCP

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is one of the main components operating while we use the Internet every day. For example, when we are browsing the web or exploring a web page, the webserver is supported with the help of HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to carry the website’s file to our device. 

HTTP relies on TCP to successfully connect your computer and the server and ensure that the file is transferred correctly over IP. Moreover, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) for peer-to-peer file sharing depends on TCP and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) for sending and receiving emails.

TCP is beneficial when the accuracy of the data transfer is more valuable rather than the speed. It applies three-way handshakes to establish the connection. So, the data is chopped into smaller packets and requests for re-transmission to ensure correctness. That is the reason the time for the data to transport is extended. 

In some cases, such as video gaming and streaming, or Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), TCP is not beneficial because of the prolonged latency. In these examples, User Datagram Protocol (UDP) comes in hand. It is less precise, yet it is faster. 

TCP vs. HTTP

The two protocols may fool you that they are very alike, but The Hypertext Transfer Protocol and the Transmission Control Protocol have some remarkable differences.

  • HTTP utilizes TCP for data transfer, and TCP is a data transfer protocol.
  • TCP is applied to establish communication or a session linking two machines. On the other hand, HTTP is used to reach information on web pages and access websites from a web server. It’s a client-server protocol. 
  • TCP handles IP addresses, while HTTP handles hyperlinks, also identified as URLs
  • TCP process requires a three-way handshake. This requires some time. However, HTTP is a one-way connection. That is the reason why TCP is much slower rather than HTTP.
  • TCP is connected-oriented. In contrast, HTTP is stateless but not sessionless.
  • TCP utilizes various ports (80, 8000, 8080, etc.). HTTP typically uses the 80 port.

Benefits of TCP

  • The data delivery is guaranteed to be accurate end-to-end. The bytes received are the precise ones and in the same order as originally sent. 
  • The functionality of TCP covers the detection of issues, such as lost or duplicated packets and the capability to fix them.

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