What Are TCP and UDP – Basic VPN Protocols Explained


Understanding the Differences Between TCP and UDP

TCP and UDP are two of the most fundamental protocols you’ll find in almost any VPN service. Among the many VPN protocols available in ZoogVPN apps, we also offer you the option of using these two protocols. 

So, what is the difference between TCP and UDP? Moreover, is one better than the other? Both protocols have their strengths, weaknesses, and standout features. In this Zlog post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about TCP and UDP, so you always know which one is the better choice depending on your online activities.

What is TCP?

TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) is a standard network protocol that transfers your data from your device to a web server. It is a connection-based protocol, meaning that it transmits data in two directions. TCP always guarantees that the data arrives entirely intact on either connection end. This reliability makes it the prevalent connection protocol in the industry.

When sending data, TCP assigns each data packet a unique identifier before delivering them in a sequence. This allows the receiver to see and acknowledge which packet has arrived, if it’s in the correct order, and which packet is next. If there’s an issue with any of these things, the receiver won’t acknowledge the data packet. This automatically signals to the sender to resend the most recently sent data packet.

This reliability is in big part due to TCP’s built-in systems that check for errors when transferring information and correct them before sending further files. Moreover, TCP possesses congestion control properties. That said, it also means that TCP has a larger overhead than UDP, as these systems use up more bandwidth.

What is UDP?

UDP (User Datagram Protocol) comes closely behind TCP as one of the most widely used network protocols. UDP is connectionless, meaning that it doesn’t establish a prior connection between two sides like TCP does. This means two things. It allows UDP to be faster but at the expense of overall network reliability.

Unlike TCP, UDP sends data packets without setting unique identifiers to each packet. It sends all of the data in a stream and only checks whether or not the data arrived uncorrupted. It doesn’t care if any data packets get lost during the process.

UDP is the preferred choice for users who highly emphasize speed over network reliability. For example, it comes very handy when streaming content or gaming but isn’t a good choice for downloading or sending files and emails. While some data might be lost along the way, UDP delivers noticeably higher speeds than TCP.

OpenVPN: TCP vs. UDP

Knowing how the two protocols work, it’s crucial to also look at them in the context of VPN use. Both TCP and UDP work with OpenVPN, an open-source VPN protocol that provides both security and privacy. Again, which of the two you decide to use will primarily depend on what you’re using your VPN service for.

If you’re connecting to a VPN to mask your torrenting activities and privately download and upload large fuels, we recommend TCP. In case you’re using the VPN to protect your VoIP services, play games with players from different corners of the world, or stream on Netflix, UDP performs better. This is because, in such a VPN setting, TCP will likely cause lag, especially when you’re using remote servers. 


Hopefully, this direct comparison between TCP and UDP has helped you understand which protocol is the better choice depending on your situation. The key thing to remember is that TCP is the more reliable choice, while UDP is the faster choice. If you need a stable protocol for transferring data, TCP is the go-to option. On the other hand, if you’re in need of a blazing-fast VPN network connection, UDP is the winner.

Ultimately, it all depends on your needs and preferences. At ZoogVPN, we deliver a diverse selection of protocols that include OpenVPN UDP 1194/TCP 443, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, and KEv2. This provides you with great flexibility, no matter what your online needs are. Sign up today and enjoy the benefits of a top-quality VPN service at the most affordable rates on the market.