What is TCP/IP and How does it work? – Starweaver
What is TCP/IP and How does it work?

What is TCP/IP and How does it work?

We often hear about TCP/IP on the internet and when you're trying to understand how computers communicate with each other, but what is tcp/ip and how does it work?

TCP/IP are actually two different things- TCP and IP. However, they're very closely related, and both are important for sending electronic signals to and from devices.

What is TCP/IP?

TCP/IP is a protocol, or a system designed to transmit data to where it needs to go, e.g., from one device to another. Here, packets of data are sent in batches, which are optimized in a way that the entire message won't have to be sent in case there's a disconnection. The receiving device will assemble the packets and convert them into a cohesive 'whole'.

The whole data sending task is divided into sub-roles for standardization purposes. The packets will pass through four layers before they're sent to the destination, with the protocol re-assembling it to its original format in reverse order.

TCP/IP keeps the connection alive between the device and application until the packet is fully sent. Furthermore, it's largely responsible for 'decoding' mechanisms, as well as managing the flow and making sure the packets are sent to where they need to go.

In terms of definition, the system is broken down to two parts- TCP, which is Transmission Control Protocol and IP, which is Internet Protocol.

TCP Meaning

TCP or Transmission Control Protocol is a communications system that allows programs and devices to exchange messages to each other via a network. Here, the packets of data are sent across the internet, and it's largely responsible for ensuring data is sent to the correct machine.

Aside from that, TCP arranges data so it's sent between what's called a client and a server. Before the data is sent the protocol establishes a connection between the two devices, then breaks down the data into smaller chunks. It's the go-to medium of choice for FTP, Telnet and Secure Shell, as well as email and HTTP, or web access.

It's worthy to note that TCP has four abstraction layers- Link Layer, Internet Layer, Transport Layer and Application Layer.

IP Meaning

IP or Internet Protocol is a medium for sending data across the world wide web. Think of it as a unique digital address that's assigned to every connected device and you'll have it down pat.

Internet Protocol is an important layer in the TCP/IP system as it's used to deliver data to and from devices.

Although you may think that TCP/IP are the same, they are two different protocols. Because they often and simultaneously work together, people starting coining the term 'TCP/IP'.

IP is the unique address or a specific phone number where you can be reached. It acts as the identifier so TCP will know where to send the requested data you ask. The two of them ensure data will reach its destination in a safe manner.

In researching, 'what is an IP address?' you'll find that the Internet Protocol assigns a unique 'address', or identifier that's specific only to one device. This IP address serves as the destination whenever you request packets of data or queries to be sent to you, e.g., while doing a Google search, browsing through an online website, or connecting to a game server.

The Working Mechanism of TCP/IP

Now that we've established the definition of TCP/IP, TCP, and IP and their roles, it's time to see how TCP/IP work.

The internet works because of TCP/IP. It's like a superhighway that has a governing body, transmission and receiving points, connections points, and different speed lanes.

Anytime you try to gather information or data from the world wide web, a request is sent to gather the data packet from another computer. That computer will then work through TCP and begin a connection to your computer. Data is broken down into chunks and passes through access points, e.g., server hosting, websites, and browsers to get to your computer. Once all the chunks are there, data is reassembled and you'll be able to view the pertinent information.

TCP/IP is the system that ensures the information you need is delivered to your smartphone or computer. Without it, the internet will not be as 'connected' and therefore it wouldn't be as useful as it is today.

The Privacy of TCP/IP

One of the biggest concerns in TCP/IP is that the data packets are available for everyone to see. Furthermore, they can be intercepted by virtually anyone who knows how to do it. There are safety concerns on how the collected data is turned into profits and in nefarious ways, e.g., selling information to third-party companies or targeted advertising, to name a few.

Internet users can protect themselves from data intrusion several ways. First, only connect to private or home Wi-Fi networks or mobile services, such as the ones in cellular companies. Second, programs such as VPNs can mask the IP address and make it more difficult for entities to see your online activity.

The third method is to install a blocker that keeps out unwanted ads. All of these require an app or program installation except for private Wi-Fi and mobile networks. Users get a level of privacy compared to browsing the internet without these measures.


TCP/IP is a universal protocol of communication carried out via the world wide web.

When asking, what is TCP/IP you will need to understand that they are two sides of the same coin. TCP, or transmission control protocol is responsible for keeping an optimal connection between the data sender and requester and breaking it down into manageable chunks. Once all the data is sent TCP will turn it into a usable whole.

IP or Internet Protocol is the address to where the packet is sent. The internet is a digital highway, and every connected device will have its own IP address.

How TCP/IP works are remarkable and allow people to communicate with each other even when they're halfway across the world.



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