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Layman’s understanding of Networking & UDP/TCP/IP

Posted: Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 at 11:08 pmUpdated: Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Now that you understand how 2 computers talk to each other, let’s drill down further. In most circumstances, you will have multiple type of internet connections open at the same time. Perhaps you’re browsing the web while listening to streaming audio. Or you’re browsing internet while you check your email using Outlook or Thunderbird. All these types of connections, how do a packet or datagram knows which application it is intended to? Surely, you don’t want to have audio packets in the middle of your web page you’re browsing. Who knows how it would look like, or vice-versa.

Well, in addition to your IP address, you also have ports. Imagine your computer as a house. Then you can think of a port as a door or room in your house. Your house has an address (your external IP address). Each packets or datagrams will have a port designated for it. That way, each packets / datagrams won’t be mixed up.
networkports

There’s a post at Yahoo Answer that prompted me to write this article. I thought it’d be good to write a more in depth answer in hopes that my explanation clears enough for anyone to understand how computer network works. As always, I welcome comments / questions / critics that will help me and other readers understand better.

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10 Responses to “Layman’s understanding of Networking & UDP/TCP/IP”

  1. Siriquelle Says:

    This is a great article.. I was searching the web for a clear explanation to UDP and this hit the nail on the head, thank you.

  2. Sonny Says:

    This is one of the best explanations of computer networks, I’ve been using this analogy since I’ve learned about networking and I’m only 18. Thanks.

  3. Mohammad Says:

    This is a realy great article
    I was looking for a long time for an article or any book that explains these things in such easy way to understand.
    Now i can read the books i have and understand it.

    Thank you very much

  4. Fauzi Says:

    Very nice discussion. I guess you could say TCP is more like a phone call.

  5. arun bansal Says:

    great article sir………..

  6. Kanchan Says:

    Great Article

  7. Kanchan Says:

    I salute you for this explanation, all books make things diffuclt, when things can be made easy like this..
    Thank you su much..

  8. Tabrez Says:

    Nice explanation with equivalent examples which helped a lot..Thanks a lot

  9. kalyan Says:

    Awesome and thanks for enlightening with this easy and simple to understand article

  10. Frodi Says:

    Simply the best. This is how computer jargon needs to be explained for a layman. Now I get it after many years trying to understand TCP and UDP. Many Many thanks!

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