What Are TCP and UDP Ports?
TCP and UDP (Transmission Control Protocol and User Datagram Protocol) are the two most common protocols used for communication over the internet. Unlike physical ports on a computer, TCP and UDP ports represent an endpoint in a communication flow, allowing a computer to receive and send data between applications and devices.
TCP ports function similarly to real-world ports, where cargo ships can dock and exchange goods. Similarly, applications and services rely on designated TCP ports to send and receive data. TCP ports use a three-digit number to identify a service or application. For example, web traffic typically uses port 80, while encrypted web traffic uses port 443.
On the other hand, UDP ports are usually used for applications where data delivery speed is the top priority over reliability and accuracy, such as real-time streaming, voice and video conferencing, and online gaming. UDP ports use the same three-digit number format as TCP ports to achieve communication flow.
For example, online gaming requires high-speed data transfer, and UDP’s inherent speed makes it the preferred protocol. Games use specific UDP ports for their communication flow. For example, Fortnite uses UDP ports 80, 433, and 3074.
Similarly, streaming services use specific ports for streaming media over the internet. YouTube, for instance, uses UDP ports 2088, 2089, and 2090.
It’s important to note that not all applications or services use fixed ports. Some applications can use dynamic ports, meaning they can use any available port when communicating. In this case, TCP and UDP ports range from port 1024 to port 65535.
Understanding TCP and UDP ports is crucial for network administrators, developers, and security professionals. By monitoring network traffic and identifying open ports, they can ensure that data is transferred securely and efficiently.