Wondering Why?

Why is UDP unreliable?

“UDP” stands for “User Datagram Protocol” and is one of many parts of the IP or Internet Protocol suite.  The basic concept of UDP involves the sending of data, called datagrams, to other parts of the network without any requirement on a prior setup or configuration between the sender and the recipient host.  Datagrams will basically be sent out through a very simple process without the need for either parts of the network to communicate with each other regarding standards and configurations.  UDP is often used in cases wherein users don’t care much about error-proofing datagrams.  Some also use the UDP when they want the transmission of data to be faster.  Experts also view UDP as useful when transmitting large files like those involved in online gaming, VOIP, and IP-based television.  But despite its benefits for some people, there are those that label UDP as very unreliable.  The main reason for this is that the datagram transmission in UDP does not involve prior interaction between two parts of a network.  In this sense alone, UDP does not guarantee that the file sent will arrive or will be accepted at its point of destination.

When somebody sends several packets of information, for example, to another host that is part of the Internet Protocol, this person will always want his/her datagrams or packets to reach their destination terminal or computer.  But with UDP, the seemingly simple datagram transfer is not guaranteed at all making it an unreliable network.  Some people also complain that packets may actually arrive at their destination but come in the wrong order.  There is also a big chance that network routers will drop datagram packets rendering the whole process unreliable.

With UDP’s questionable reliability, it is almost expected that people will lose some data while the transmission is going on.  There is also a huge risk of duplication errors as the simple protocol can simply not guarantee data transfer security, integrity, and duplication.


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