Network Protocols


A network protocol is defined as the rules and conventions for communication and data transfer between network devices. Implementation of a Protocol can be done via hardware, software or a combination of both. All computer networking Protocols usually employ packet switching techniques for transmitting and receiving messages in the form of packets.

Protocol Characteristics

Different computer networking protocols are available, each designed for a particular purpose and environment. Major characteristics of computer networking protocols include:

  1. Network protocols provide means for devices to identify and make physical connections (wired or wireless) with each other.
  2. They also provide formatting rules that specify how data is packaged into messages, sent and received.
  3. Message acknowledgement and data compression features are also incorporated for reliable and high-performance network communication.
  • Some other characteristics commonly associated with network protocols comprise:
  1. Handshaking
  2. Negotiation of various connection characteristics.
  3. Termination of the session and/or connection.
  4. Error correction i.e. rectifying corrupted and improperly formatted messages.
  5. Detection of unexpected loss of connection.

List of Network Protocols

Following are the widely used Network Protocols:

IP Internet Protocol
UDP User Datagram Protocol
TCP Transmission Control Protocol
DHCP Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol
HTTP Hypertext Transfer Protocol
FTP File Transfer Protocol
Telnet Telnet Remote Protocol
SSH Secure Shell Remote Protocol
POP3 Post Office Protocol 3
SMTP Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
IMAP Internet Message Access Protocol
SOAP Simple Object Access Protocol
PPP Point-to-Point Protocol


Internet Protocol

Internet Protocol (IP) is the most widely used network protocol amongst all. Higher-level protocols like TCP, UDP, HTTP, and FTP all integrate with IP to provide additional capabilities and interact very closely with applications like Web browsers. Lower-level Internet Protocols like ARP and ICMP also co-exist with IP and have good interaction with network adapters and other computer hardware.

Implementation of Network Protocols

Higher level computer networking protocols are implemented by means of applications like Web browsers that include software libraries for supporting protocols. However, in case of lower level TCP/IP and routing protocols, support is implemented directly in hardware (silicon chipsets) for better performance. Besides, some network protocols are implemented via the built-in services incorporated within modern operating systems like Microsoft Windows.