User Datagram Protocol (UDP)

Definition - What does User Datagram Protocol (UDP) mean?

User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is part of the Internet Protocol suite used by programs running on different computers on a network. UDP is used to send short messages called datagrams but overall, it is an unreliable, connectionless protocol. UDP is officially defined in RFC 768 and was formulated by David P. Reed.

Techopedia explains User Datagram Protocol (UDP)

User datagram protocol is an open systems interconnection (OSI) transport layer protocol for client- server network applications. UDP uses a simple transmission model but does not employ handshaking dialogs for reliability, ordering and data integrity. The protocol assumes that error-checking and correction is not required, thus avoiding processing at the network interface level.

UDP is widely used in video conferencing and real-time computer games. The protocol permits individual packets to be dropped and UDP packets to be received in a different order than that in which they were sent, allowing for better performance.

UDP network traffic is organized in the form of datagrams, which comprise one message units. The first eight bytes of a datagram contain header information, while the remaining bytes contain message data. A UDP datagram header contains four fields of two bytes each:

  • Source port number
  • Destination port number
  • Datagram size
  • Checksum
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