Pros and cons of TCP vs. UDP: which is better?

Chandan Luthra Jan 23rd, 2024

In the ever-expanding digital landscape, in which seamless record transmission is the backbone of limitless packages, the selection between Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP) will become crucial. Nowhere is this decision greater than within the realm of streaming, where factors like latency, reliability, and record integrity play pivotal roles. In this in-intensity exploration, we will dissect the internal workings of TCP vs UDP, determine their execs and cons, and ultimately determine which protocol stands as the champion for streaming applications.

What is the UDP streaming protocol?

User Datagram Protocol (UDP) sticks out as a connectionless protocol that operates at the shipping layer of the Internet Protocol (IP) suite. Renowned for its simplicity and speed, UDP is desired for programs with stressful real-time facts transmission, consisting of video streaming and online gaming. 

Unlike TCP vs UDP skips the relationship setup section and would not assure packet delivery, prioritizing pace over reliability.

How does UDP work?

UDP’s modus operandi entails sending facts in discrete packets known as datagrams. This loss of a connection setup overhead permits UDP to attain an extremely good pace, making it an excellent preference for eventualities wherein low latency is crucial. 

However, the absence of a guaranteed shipping mechanism introduces a detailed hazard, as some packets can be lost in transit.

What is the TCP Streaming Protocol?

On the opposite side of the spectrum is Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), a connection-oriented protocol that operates atop the Internet Protocol. 

TCP is synonymous with reliability and records integrity, making it the cross-to preference for applications wherein each bit of statistics ought to reach its destination intact. File transfers, e-mail, and net surfing are prime examples of eventualities where TCP shines.

How does TCP Work?

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) operates as a connection-oriented protocol that guarantees reliable and ordered statistics shipping over a community.

The fundamental workings of TCP contain a series of steps, which include connection status quo, statistics transmission, waft control, and blunders healing:

Three-Way Handshake

  • Connection Initiation (SYN): When a consumer intends to set up a reference to a server, it sends a TCP packet with the SYN (synchronize) flag set. This signifies the start of the relationship setup.
  • Server Acknowledgment (SYN-ACK): Upon receiving the SYN packet, the server responds with a packet containing each of the SYN and ACK (renowned) flags set. This recognizes the customer’s request and indicates the server’s readiness to set up a connection.
  • Client Acknowledgment (ACK): The purchaser, upon receiving the SYN-ACK packet, sends an acknowledgment returned to the server. This completes the three-way handshake, establishing a dependable connection between the patron and server.

Pros and Cons of TCP and UDP



  • Reliability: TCP guarantees the reliable transport of information, making it appropriate for packages where information integrity is paramount.
  • Ordered Delivery: Data is added in the right series, preventing statistical misinterpretation.
  • Error Recovery: TCP’s widespread error-checking mechanisms and retransmission protocols ensure data integrity.


  • Overhead: The three-way handshake and flow control mechanisms introduce overhead, probably impacting speed.
  • Latency: TCP’s meticulous approach to reliability can cause expanded latency, making it much less suitable for actual-time packages.



  • Low Latency: The absence of connection setup overhead permits UDP to reap decreased latency, making it ideal for real-time packages.
  • Simplicity: UDP is easy and green, making it less difficult to implement and faster for precise applications.
  • No Connection Overhead: Without the need to set up a connection, UDP gives quicker information transmission.


  • Unreliable: UDP does no longer guarantee the delivery of packets, leading to potential fact loss.
  • No Order Guarantee: Packets may arrive out of order, necessitating additional common sense within the software layer to manage sequencing.
  • Limited Error Handling: UDP lacks the giant blunders-checking and healing mechanisms of TCP.

TCP vs. UDP – Which Is Better for Streaming?

The million-dollar question in the streaming arena boils all the way down to selecting between TCP and UDP. The decision hinges on the unique requirements of the utility.

TCP for streaming

  • Use Case: TCP is ideal for streaming programs wherein information integrity and order are paramount, which includes on-call for video streaming and record downloads.
  • Reliability: If facts loss is unacceptable, TCP guarantees that every piece of information is introduced efficiently.

UDP for streaming

  • Use Case: UDP shines in actual-time streaming packages in which low latency is crucial, such as live video streaming, online gaming, and VoIP.
  • Speed: The loss of connection overhead and decreased latency make UDP more suitable for applications that prioritize pace over reliability.


In the perpetual debate of TCP vs UDP for streaming, there is no one-length-suits-all answer. The choice depends on the unique wishes of the application. TCP is desired for eventualities where information integrity and order are essential, while UDP stands proud in real-time packages that call for low latency.

As the era continues to conform and the needs of streaming programs grow to be more nuanced, the selection between TCP vs UDP will continue to shape the landscape of information transmission on the net.

 Whether it’s the steadfast reliability of TCP or the lightning-fast velocity of UDP, expertise in their strengths and weaknesses is pivotal for optimizing streaming stories in our ever-connected global.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Ans: TCP’s overhead, including the Three-Way Handshake and flow control, may impact speed, making it less suitable for applications prioritizing real-time data transmission.

Ans: The choice between TCP and UDP for streaming depends on the specific requirements. TCP is suitable for applications emphasizing data integrity, while UDP excels in low-latency scenarios.

Ans: UDP sends data in discrete packets called datagrams, avoiding a connection setup phase and allowing for faster transmission.

Ans: TCP employs a sliding window mechanism for flow control, ensuring efficient data flow without overwhelming the recipient.

Ans: TCP is preferred for applications like file transfers, email, and web browsing, where data integrity and ordered delivery are crucial.

Chandan Luthra - Director, Product Engineering, Enveu
Chandan Luthra is a co-founder of Enveu, and heads the Engineering department at Enveu. He is an early adopter of OTT tech and has been part of many OTT platforms across the globe. He is developing & building Products and SaaS platforms for more than 13+ years

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