TCP vs. UDP: What’s the Difference? (2024)

In the world of Internet protocol traffic, consumers can choose between a TCP or UDP setup for their business or personal use. When it comes to TCP vs UDP features and functions, each brings its own set of advantages and challenges.

With that said, UDP is known for being faster and more up-to-date, yet many systems still rely on TCP to download batches of information. Users will need to take a look at their specific IP needs to make an informed decision about which protocol is best for them.

What is TCP?

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is connection-oriented, meaning once a connection has been established, data can be transmitted in two directions. TCP has built-in systems to check for errors and to guarantee data will be delivered in the order it was sent, making it the perfect protocol for transferring information like still images, data files, and web pages.

But while TCP is instinctively reliable, its feedback mechanisms also result in a larger overhead, translating to greater use of the available bandwidth on your network.

What is UDP?

User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is a simpler, connectionless Internet protocol wherein error-checking and recovery services are not required. With UDP, there is no overhead for opening a connection, maintaining a connection, or terminating a connection; data is continuously sent to the recipient, whether or not they receive it.

Although UDP isn’t ideal for sending an email, viewing a webpage, or downloading a file, it is largely preferred for real-time communications like broadcast or multitask network transmission.

What is the Difference Between TCP and UDP?

TCP is a connection-oriented protocol, whereas UDP is a connectionless protocol. A key difference between TCP and UDP is speed, as TCP is comparatively slower than UDP. Overall, UDP is a much faster, simpler, and efficient protocol, however, retransmission of lost data packets is only possible with TCP.

Another notable discrepancy with TCP vs UDP is that TCP provides an ordered delivery of data from user to server (and vice versa), whereas UDP is not dedicated to end-to-end communications, nor does it check the readiness of the receiver (requiring fewer overheads and taking up less space).




Connection statusRequires an established connection to transmit data (connection should be closed once transmission is complete)Connectionless protocol with no requirements for opening, maintaining, or terminating a connection
Data sequencingAble to sequenceUnable to sequence
Guaranteed deliveryCan guarantee delivery ofdata to the destination routerCannot guarantee delivery of data to the destination
Retransmission of dataRetransmission of lost packets is possibleNo retransmission of lost packets
Error checkingExtensive error checking and acknowledgment of dataBasic error checking mechanism using checksums
Method of transferData is read as a byte stream; messages are transmitted tosegment boundariesUDP packets with defined boundaries; sent individually and checked for integrity on arrival
SpeedSlower than UDPFaster than TCP
BroadcastingDoes not support BroadcastingDoes support Broadcasting
Optimal useUsed by HTTPS, HTTP, SMTP, POP, FTP, etcVideo conferencing, streaming, DNS, VoIP, etc

TCP vs UDP Speed

The reason for UDP’s superior speed over TCP is that its non-existent ‘acknowledgement’ supports a continuous packet stream. Since TCP connection always acknowledges a set of packets (whether or not the connection is totally reliable), a retransmission must occur for every negative acknowledgement where a data packet has been lost.

But because UDP avoids the unnecessary overheads of TCP transport, it’s incredibly efficient in terms of bandwidth, and much less demanding of poor performing networks, as well.

Which is Better for Video Conferencing?

The flow controls from TCP, although dependable, are unable to recover missing data fast enough to be useful in real-time video communications. And while data integrity is important, it has to be balanced with speed to ensure the pace of communication remains unhindered.

That’s why the Lifesize web and desktop apps have been developed to prioritize UDP over TCP for media transport, while our Icon meeting room systems exclusively use UDP for real-time media. Additionally, Lifesize employs strategies like error concealment, error correction, and rate controls for robust UDP media connections sans lags or latency.

Lifesize strongly recommends our customers enable access via UDP toward our cloud servers, as this can help achieve the best user experience possible.

How to Enable UDP on Lifesize

For the highest-quality video conferencing available, Lifesize favors UDP to reduce delays and ensure smooth calls every time. In just a few steps, you can have UDP enabled on Lifesize and be well on your way to better meetings and stronger results.

1. Open Lifesize

Open the Lifesize web or desktop app to get started. Lifesize supports a wide range of devices and user preferences, with apps for PC and Mac computers, Android and iOS phones and tablets, and a browser-based web app for any devices unable to download applications.

2. Choose preferences

Once you’re in the Lifesize app, you’ll want to choose your port preferences. To place calls to other devices through a firewall, you need to configure your firewall to allow incoming and outgoing traffic to the Lifesize system through the reserved TCP or UDP ports.

To minimize the number of UDP ports available for communication, you can restrict the range by changing values in Preferences > Network > Reserved Ports. By default, Lifesize systems communicate through ports in the range 60000 – 64999 for video, voice, presentations, and camera control.

While Lifesize encourages users to stick to this range, you do have the ability to restrict the number of UDP ports that are available. If the range you choose is not a subset of the default, be sure it begins with a port number greater than 49151.

Additionally, the range has to start with an even number and end with an odd number to include an even number of total ports. For example, if a range starts at 62000, set the lower end to 62000 and the upper end to 62099 to allocate 100 ports (the required minimum).

Please note, changing the values in Reserved Ports will cause the system to restart.

3. Open proxy settings

With your preferences in place, it’s time to open your proxy settings by navigating to Preferences > Network > Proxy.

This table is a great resource on the necessary firewall and proxy settings associated with UDP, as you’ll need to configure your firewall to allow outbound access from your network to your UDP ports. If you happen to have third-party integration for approved Cisco® and Polycom® devices, you will be provided with an H.460 server IP address, as well.

Be sure to click Save on your updates. Successful proxy connection shows as Connected, but if your proxy status shows Failed, it’s important to check your settings and try again.

4. Enable UDP

With UDP enabled on Lifesize, users can make the most of their video calls and conferencing, thanks to 30 frames of video or more per second. This image-refresh interval is so fast, you won’t have to wait for delayed data retransmissions, which means improvements in clarity, consistency, and productivity all in one platform.


After exploring the difference between TCP and UDP, it’s clear any business using virtual communications can benefit greatly from UDP. Not only does UDP avoid the transport traps and clogged networks common with TCP, but it boasts exceptional speed for all your streaming needs. And by enabling UDP for Lifesize, companies enjoy enhanced workflows, less overhead, and fewer interruptions all around, making this pairing a true win-win.

TCP vs. UDP: What’s the Difference? (2024)


TCP vs. UDP: What’s the Difference? ›

TCP vs UDP: Differences between the protocols. The main difference between TCP (transmission control protocol) and UDP (user datagram protocol) is that TCP is a connection-based protocol and UDP is connectionless. While TCP is more reliable, it transfers data more slowly. UDP is less reliable but works more quickly.

What is the main difference between TCP and UDP? ›

TCP is a connection-oriented protocol, whereas UDP is a connectionless protocol. A key difference between TCP and UDP is speed, as TCP is comparatively slower than UDP. Overall, UDP is a much faster, simpler, and efficient protocol, however, retransmission of lost data packets is only possible with TCP.

Is wifi TCP or UDP? ›

Sending data wirelessly

Let's cover a few terms to give you a more technical look at how Wi-Fi works: TCP/IP: The internet protocol which specifies how data is broken into transferrable packets, addressed, transmitted, routed, and received for end-to-end data communication.

Does IP use TCP or UDP? ›

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP or TCP/IP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP or UDP/IP) are both transport protocols layered on top of the Internet Protocol (IP). Use the TCP/IP and UDP interfaces for reading and writing both binary data and ASCII data.

What are the advantages of TCP vs UDP? ›

TCP provides reliable delivery, whereas UDP does not. UDP is faster than TCP for bulk data transfers, but TCP is faster for interactive applications. TCP has better security features than UDP. UDP does not support multicast transmission, while TCP does.

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