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User Datagram Protocol

(also UDP)

User Datagram Protocol definition

The User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is a connectionless transport layer protocol used in the internet protocol suite for transmitting data packets without requiring a prior connection between the sender and receiver. UDP prioritizes speed and low latency over reliability, making it suitable for applications that require real-time data transmissions, such as video streaming, gaming, and voice-over IP (VoIP).

See also: TCP handshake, DNS server

User Datagram Protocol examples

  • DNS (Domain Name System): DNS queries typically use UDP to translate human-readable domain names into IP addresses quickly and efficiently.
  • VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol): VoIP services utilize UDP to deliver audio data in real time with minimal latency.
  • Online gaming: Multiplayer games use UDP to transmit game data among players, ensuring smooth gameplay and quick response times.

User Datagram Protocol vs. Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)

UDP and TCP are both transport layer protocols, but they differ in their approach to data transmission. TCP is a connection-oriented protocol that guarantees data delivery by establishing a connection before sending data, and it provides error checking and correction. UDP, on the other hand, is connectionless and does not guarantee data delivery, error checking, or correction, prioritizing speed and low latency.

Pros and cons of UDP


  • Faster data transmission due to low overhead.
  • Lower latency, suitable for real-time applications.
  • No connection setup, reducing resource usage.


  • Less reliable data transmission since it lacks error checking and correction.
  • Not suitable for applications that require guaranteed data delivery.

Tips for using UDP

For applications that demand real-time data transmission and low latency, use UDP. However, if the application requires reliable data delivery and error checking, consider using TCP instead.