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Types of Network Protocols and Their Uses

network protocols
Types of Network Protocols and Their Uses

Network Protocols are a set of rules, conventions, and data structures that dictate how devices exchange data across networks. Network Protocols are a set of rules governing exchange of information in an easy, reliable and secure way.
  • Two or more machines on a network follow to communicate with each other.
  • They are the standards that allow computers to communicate.
  • Defines how computers identify one another on a network.
  • The form that the data should take in transit, and how this information is processed once it reaches its final destination.
  • A protocol is needed every time we want to perform any task on a network.
  • It may be transferring data or taking a printout on a network printer or accessing the central database.
  • Although each network protocol is different, they all share the same physical cabling.
  • This common method of accessing the physical network allows multiple protocols to peacefully coexist over the network media, and allows the builder of a network to use common hardware for a variety of protocols. This concept is known as “Protocol Independence.”

Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)
TCP/IP are the two protocols that are used together and together they form the backbone protocol of the internet. They can also be used for private networks i.e. intranets and extranets. When you are set up with direct access to the Internet, your computer is provided with a copy of the TCP/IP program

  • TCP/IP has two major components: TCP and IP.
  • The Transmission Control Protocol(TCP) breaks the data into packets that the network can handle efficiently.
  • It manages the assembling of a message or file into smaller packets that are transmitted over the Internet.
  • It verifies all the packets when they arrive at the destination computer and then reassembles them in proper order.
  • Data can be lost in the intermediate network. So TCP adds support to detect errors or lost data and to trigger retransmission until the data is correctly and completely received.
  • The Internet Protocol(IP) handles the address part of each packet so that it reaches to the right destination.
  • It gives distinct address (called IP address) to each data packet.
  • Each gateway computer on the network checks this address to see where to forward the message.
  • Even though some packets from the same message are routed differently than others, they’ll be reassembled at the destination.
  • An IP address is a unique identifier for a node or host connection on an IP network.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
File Transfer protocol (FTP) is the simplest and one of the oldest protocols designed for transferring files of any type (ASCII or binary) from one system to another on the internet. FTP is an application protocol that uses the Internet’s TCP/IPprotocols.

  • FTP is based on Client/Server principle.
  • By giving the FTP command with any remote address, the file transfer can be initiated.
  • In any FTP interface, clients identify the FTP server either by its IP address (such as or by its host name (such as ftp.about.com).
  • It is an efficient means to send and receive files from a remote host.
  • FTP establishes two connections between the hosts. One connection is used for data transfer and the other for control information.
  • The control connection remains connected during the entire interactive FTP session while the data connection is opened and closed for each file transfer.
  • As a user, we can use FTP with a simple command from the Windows MS-DOS Prompt window or with a commercial program that offers a graphical user interface.
  • We can even download programs by making FTP requests through your web browser.
  • By logging on to an FTP server, you can delete, rename, move, or copy files at a
  • However, publicly available files are easily accessed using anonymous FTP. In such a case you need not formally sign-in to the FTP server to make a file transfer, instead you may be simply asked to enter your email address.

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
HTTP is the protocol that is used for transferring hypertext (i.e. text, graphic, image, sound, video etc.) between two computers and is particularly used on the World Wide Web. It is a TCP/IP based communication protocol and provides a standard for Web browsers and servers to communicate.

  • Hyper Text is the text that is specially coded using a standard coding language called
    Hyper Text Markup Languag (HTML).
  • It basically creates hyperlinks and thereby controls how the World Wide Web works and how Web pages are formatted and displayed.
  • These hyperlinks can be in the form of text, graphic, image, sound or video and are used to “link “the user to some other file.
  • HTTP defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what actions Web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands.
  • When you enter a URL in your browser, this actually sends an HTTP command to
    the Web server directing it to fetch and transmit the requested Web page.
  • HTTP is based on Client/Server principle.
  • Communication between the host and the client occurs through a request/response pair.
  • A connection is established between two computers – out of which one is client
    (generally the browser) that initiates the request and the other is the server that responds to the request.

Point to Point Protocol (PPP)
PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) is used for communication between two computers using a serial interface, mostly a personal computer connected by phone line to a server. Internet Service Provider (ISP) may provide us with a PPP connection so that the ISP’sserver can respond to our requests, pass them on to the Internet, and forward our requested Internet responses back to us.

  • It was basically designed to help communication between two systems through telephone lines as it supports transmission of network packets over a serial point to point link.
  • PPP is sometimes considered a member of the TCP/IP suite of protocols. Essentially, it encapsulates and packages your computer’s TCP/IP packets into PPP frames and then forwards them to the server over serial transmission lines such as telephone lines, ISDN etc.
  • PPP defines the format of frame to be exchanged between devices on one or multiple links and also defines the authenticity of the two devices.
  • It supports various authentication schemes such as Password Authentication Protocol (PAP) and Challenge Handshake Authentication protocol (CHAP).

E-Mail Protocols
Simple Mail transfer protocol (SMTP)

  • SMTP allows transmission of email over the Internet.
  • Most email software is designed to use SMTP for communication purposes when sending email.
  • It only works for outgoing messages. So when an email has to be sent, the address of their Internet Service Provider’s SMTP server has to be given.
  • The actual mail transfer is done through Message Transfer Agents(MTA). So
    the client computer must have a client MTA and the server must have a server MTA.
  • SMTP actually defines the MTA client and the server on the internet.
  • SMTP is a reliable and easy to set up protocol.
  • The other purpose of SMTP is to set up communication rules between servers. Every server has its own way to identify itself, define the mode of communication that they will follow, check for errors and handle them.
  • SMTP has a major disadvantage that it is relatively easy to send a message with a fake sender address. This results in spread of many email-based viruses.

Post Office Protocol Version 3 (POP3)

  • Post Office Protocol 3 or POP3 is the third version of a widespread method of receiving email which receives and holds email for an individual until they pick it up.
  • SMTP server receives the mail on behalf of every host and the respective host then interacts with the SMTP server to retrieve messages by using a client server protocol called POP3.
  • POP3 makes it easy for anyone to check their email if their email program is configured properly to work with the protocol.
  • It is extremely common among most mail servers because of its simplicity and high
    success rate and minimumerrors.
  • It can work with virtually any email program, as long as the email program is configured to host the protocol.
  • Many popular email programs, including Microsoft Outlook, are automatically designed to work with POP3.
  • Each POP3 mail server has a different address, which is usually provided to an individual by their web hosting company.

Remote Access Protocol

  • Telnet is the main internet protocol for creating a connection with a remote machine.
  • It allows us to connect to remote computers (called remote hosts) over a TCP/IP network (such as the Internet).
  • Once telnet client establishes a connection to the remote host, the client becomes a virtual terminal, allowing to communicate with the remote host from our computer with whatever privileges we may have been granted to the specific application and data on that host computer.
  • Telnet clients are available for all major operating systems viz. Mac OS X, Windows, Unix, and Linux.
  • It gives the user the opportunity to be on one computer system and do work on another, which may be anywhere across the globe.
  • Telnet provides an error free connection which is always faster than the latest conventional modems.

Chat Protocol

  • A real time informal communication over the Internet is chatting.
  • A chat program is a software which is required for chatting over the internet.
  • AOL Instant Messenger, Campfire, Internet Messenger, MSN Messenger are some commonly used chat programs.
  • In order to chat, the user should have an account on a chatting program.
  • A phone call is a voice based chat while online chat is textual conversation.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC)

  • IRC protocol is used for chatting. It provides chatting between a group or between two individuals.
  • The IRC client sends and receives messages to and from an IRC server.
  • The IRC server transports the message from one client to another.
  • The IRC server is linked to many other servers to form an IRC network.
  • IRC server identifies every user through a unique nickname.
  • Each user is assigned a unique channel in case multiple discussions are taking place.


  • VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol.
  • It enables the transfer of voice using packet switched network rather than using public switched telephone network.
  • By using VOIP software, phone calls can be done using standard internet connection.
  • This method of making phone calls is much cheaper than convectional way because the service of Telecommunication Company is not used.

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