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UDP and TCP packets – how do they affect my use of the internet?

Question: What are UDP and TCP packets, and how do they affect my use of the internet?

Answer: UDP and TCP are protocols that operate in the transport layer of the Internet Protocol suite. The transport layer is responsible for the transfer and regulation of data from a source to a destination. TCP stands for Transmission Control Protocol forms connections and it is used for very reliable flow control and packet handling. TCP is the primary protocol used for browsing the web or sending and receiving e-mail. UDP,on the other hand, stands for User Datagram Protocol and unlike TCP, is connection-less, meaning that it sends information without confirmation of their receipt. The UDP packets are referred to as datagram’s. They are self contained, or independent, of prior or future datagram’s. Processing a datagram is specific to the application that uses them. Because of the unreliable nature of UDP, only applications with a tolerance for packet-loss use this protocol. Voice over IP, streaming media, and online multiplayer games all communicate by means of UDP. Applications open ports for sending and receiving UDP packets. If you have a broadband connection and a router with “port-forwarding”, you can optimize the delivery of these packets. This can sometimes help the speed of online applications, like games for instance.

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