A Beginners Guide – Common Network Protocols

Network protocols are a set of standard rules which make sure computers in a network are communicating in the same language, examples of different protocols are:

  • IP (internet protocol)
  •  UDP (User datagram protocol)
  • TCP (Transmission Control Protocol),
  • DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol)
  • HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)
  • FTP (File Transfer Protocol)


Internet protocol, also known as TCP/IP, is the basic set of protocols used for the internet and other similar types of private networks such as intranet or extranet. TCP/IP is a combination of both TCP and IP and so it is broken into two parts TCP and IP. The responsibility of the TCP layer is to break up the message into packets (smaller bits of data) and then send it over the internet. IP handles the addressing of the packets, where each packet of data is being sent to and then sends the packets to the right place.


UDP is an unreliable means of communicating through a network, it provides no guarantees for delivery and no protection from duplication. Compared to other transport protocols, UDP is unique in that it does not establish end-to-end connections between communicating end systems. Applications can send UDP datagrams at the line rate of the link interface, which is often much greater than the available path capacity, and doing so would contribute to congestion along the path, applications therefore need to be designed responsibly.


DHCP allows computers to get their network configurations from a server, instead of the user configuring it manually. The main purpose of DHCP is to reduce the work load of the administrator trying to put together a huge network by automatically assigning (Lease) IP addresses to the different devices connected to the network and so without a DHCP server IP addresses would have to be configured to each of the computers manually.

DHCP uses the concept of a lease or amount of time that a given IP address will be valid for a computer. The lease time can vary depending on how long a user is likely to require the Internet connection at a particular location. It’s especially useful in education and other environments where users change frequently. Using very short leases, DHCP can dynamically reconfigure networks in which there are more computers than there are available IP addresses. The protocol also supports static addresses for computers  needing a permanent IP addresses.


HTTP is an application layer protocol used for retrieving inter linked resources called hypertext. HTTP is mainly used for surfing the internet. Another version of HTTP is HTTPS (HTTP secure), it’s more secure and used for things that require data to be kept safe and secure like entering bank details into an e-commerce website


FTP is used for transferring files over the internet, it is similar to HTTP as it transfers web pages from a server to a browser, FTP transfers files from a server to a client. It can be used for backing up fails to a server elsewhere. The difference between HTTP and FTP is the fact that FTP is two way and HTTP is one way, web browsing only allows you to view information that is on a server but FTP allows data transfers from both sides.

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