The User Datagram Protocol, or UDP, is another widely used transport protocol. It’s faster than TCP, but it is also less reliable. UDP does not make sure all packets are delivered and in order, and it doesn’t establish a connection before beginning or receiving transmissions.
UDP/IP is usually utilized for streaming audio or video, as these are use cases where the risk of dropped packets (meaning, missing data) is outweighed by the need to keep the transmission real-time. For instance, when users are watching a video online, not every pixel has to be present for every frame of the video. Users would rather have the video play at normal speed than sit and wait for every bit of data to be delivered.
How does UDP work?
Like all networking protocols, UDP is a standardized method for transferring data between two computers in a network. Compared to other protocols, UDP accomplishes this process in a simple fashion: it sends packets (units of data transmission) directly to a target computer, without establishing a connection first, indicating the order of said packets, or checking whether they arrived as intended. (UDP packets are referred to as ‘datagrams’.)
UDP is faster but less reliable than TCP, another common transport protocol. In a TCP communication, the two computers begin by establishing a connection via an automated process called a ‘handshake.’ Only once this handshake has been completed will one computer actually transfer data packets to the other.