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UDP VS TCP: Which One is Better for Streaming

UDP and TCP have been a part of major VPN debates: both of these are transport protocols and execute the transmission of data packets during online experiences. While both can power major internet activities like gaming, torrenting, browsing, video-calling, text messaging and downloading, which one should you prefer during digital streaming? This article will tell you the answer to this question while shedding light on their major technical and performance differences including speed and reliability. 

UDP VS TCP

What is TCP?

TCP is the Transmission Control Protocol that depends on a connection between data packet sender and server. When a user makes a search query, the TCP sends data numbered data packets, checks for errors, corrects errors, and waits for an acknowledgement. When TCP does not get a confirmation of data receipt, it resends the particular data packets until it receives an acknowledgement. The TCP ensures a fruitful web experience especially when users tend to navigate websites, click links and fill forms. The mechanism makes TCP a more reliable protocol than UDP. 

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Transmission Features of TCP include: 

1. It is a connection-oriented protocol, which is why the transmission process takes longer, making TCP a slightly slower protocol than UDP.

2. It arranges and sends data packets in an orderly fashion. 

3. It waits for acknowledgements and retransmits upon non-receipt of data packets. 

4. It performs error correction and ensures the webpage is loaded fully. 


What is UDP? 

UDP is a User datagram Protocol which does not establish a connection between a client and server device, yet ensures faster delivery of data packets. It does not wait for receipt confirmations and does not depend on handshakes or bridges, as in TCP.  Though it is not a dedicated protocol for error correction but does perform a one-step sum check after an exchange of data packets. But to ensure speed, it does not offer retransmission and data packets once lost, are lost altogether. This is a better protocol for VoIP and video calling services, gaming, torrenting, and exclusively streaming because of the high speed. Even during congested connectivity, users don’t feel the network lagging and continue with their respective activity. No wonder best high speed VPN services always have UDP as a default setting. 

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UDP VS TCP: Major Technical Differences

1. TCP performs the acknowledgement process and guarantees transmission of all data packets, despite being on a low-speed network. UDP’s mechanism does not support retransmission that’s why it is a less reliable transport protocol. 

2. TCP depends on handshake connections while UDP does not. The former initially creates a bridge between client device and server for the transfer of data, numbers data packets, sends them in a sequence and demands acknowledgement while supporting retransmission. UDP is connectionless, does not create the bridge, and offers limited error correction, resulting in the loss of data during transit. It does not prioritize the delivery of data. So if you are emailing, and your VPN is active, you can choose to switch to TCP, though in any case, your experience will remain unaffected. 

3. TCP has a slower workflow because of the data delivery processes involved in the mechanism.  While it offers superb reliability, UDP offers the highest speed suitable for streaming, P2P File sharing and online gaming. This is the reason users experience a seamless internet experience with UDP and this is also the reason you’ll always find the best high speed VPN set on UDP by default. 

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Which one is better for Streaming?

The differences in their workflow suggest why UDP is the most commonly used protocol for streaming in best high speed VPN. it guarantees steady transmission of data, does not lag or waste time between activities, and works stably during activities that consume excessive bandwidth. 

Does using UDP or TCP affect privacy and security?

Definitely, NO! Remember that a VPN is primarily made to pass online traffic through a secure tunnel so that no intruder or even internet service provider can monitor your online activity. Unless you are using a free VPN, there should be no question on the privacy and security standards of UDP or TCP, because these protocols only initiate the transfer of data and have nothing to do with the channel. You can switch to either of these protocols to test the reliability of a premium VPN service and will always find your privacy and security intact and unaffected. 

As far as delivery of data is concerned, best VPNs already provide unlimited bandwidth which means you can enjoy a reliable internet experience even on UDP unless there is poor connectivity from the Wi-Fi router or the sender website has a corrupt server or it is denying service. 

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In this extremely digital world, UDP vs TCP is an important debate for individuals who habitually torrent or are die-hard binge-watchers. You can choose whichever protocol in your VPN based on your internet activity without worrying about online privacy and security. 

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