UDP

Stands for "User Datagram Protocol."

UDP is a data transport protocol within the Internet Protocol (IP) suite. UDP is a connectionless protocol that does not rely on two hosts establishing a connection before transferring datagrams. Streaming media, online gaming, and other situations where low latency is more important than the occasional dropped data will use UDP.

Compared to other data transfer protocols like TCP, SSH, and HTTPS, UDP is a simple way to send data. The device sending the datagrams does not need to establish a connection, ask whether each packet has been received, and re-send any data lost in transit. Instead, it sends a series of datagrams containing the destination IP address, routing information, and payload as fast as possible. Skipping the connection and verification steps means that UDP has less overhead and latency than other protocols.

However, there is no guarantee that the device receiving the datagrams is getting all of them. If network congestion causes some datagrams to get dropped, there is no way for the receiving device to ask for the data again. In the case of a video call over the Internet, a lower latency means that there is less of a delay between one end of the call saying something and the other end hearing it. If the connection between the two ends slows down and some datagrams are lost, the video may cut out for a moment before resuming.

Updated October 5, 2022

Definitions by TechTerms.com

The definition of UDP on this page is an original TechTerms.com definition. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, you can use the green citation links above.

The goal of TechTerms.com is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about the UDP definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Want to learn more tech terms? Subscribe to the daily or weekly newsletter and get featured terms and quizzes delivered to your inbox.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.