The Transmission Control Protocol or TCP is one of the main protocols of the Internet protocol suite also includes Internet Protocol or IP, and the Internet protocol suite is commonly referred to as TCP/IP.
It originated in 1974 and things like the world wide web, and peer-to-peer file sharing run on it. While TCP is typically used to connect network devices, like PCs and mobile devices to the internet, it can also be used as a communication protocol for private networks like intranets or extranets.
What is TCP used for?
As stated, TCP is a communications standard that enables applications and computing devices to exchange messages over a network and is designed to send packets across the Internet and ensure the successful delivery of data and messages over a network.
How Does TCP Work?
In simple terms, when a user connects to the Internet, the user just makes a connection between a router and a computer or mobile device. Nothing else is required because the system automatically logs into the network and updates the unique IP addresses that the user needs to receive and send data.
This is made possible by the Internet protocol suite. In this situation, TCP allows for the transmission of information in both directions. This means that computers using TCP, can communicate and send and receive data at the same time, similar to a telephone conversation.
With TCP, an application does not need to take care of packet fragmentation or segments of the data. While IP handles the actual sending and delivery of the data, TCP keeps track of the segments or packets, which are the individual units of data transmission that a message is divided into to be efficiently routed through the network.
Because of unpredictable network behavior, IP packets can be lost during transmission or received out of order. TCP keeps track of this and detects and minimizes these issues by reordering out-of-order packets or requesting redelivery of packets that were lost. This creates more accuracy in the data transmission. For example, a DNS lookup can take several seconds longer because of how TCP works. For this reason, TCP is known for reliability rather than speed.
Considering how TCP works, it’s important because it establishes the rules and standard procedures for ways information is communicated over the Internet or networks. As such, it’s the foundation of the Internet and it ensures that data transmission is carried out uniformly, regardless of the location of the user and the hardware and software involved, and ensures consistent deliverability.