What is TCP/IP?

Connecting to the Internet nowadays has become so easy and user-friendly that we tend to forget about the technical aspects of things like page loading and file downloading. These operations still occur, even if the average user doesn’t care.

TCP/IP stands for constant communication between private computers and servers.

One such overlooked set of operations is TCP/IP. This frequently used but little understood set of operations stands for Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol. TCP/IP is the combination of the two and describes the protocol suite that allows hosts to connect to the Internet. In fact, TCP/IP is a combination of more than these two protocols, but the TCP and IP parts of TCP/IP are the main and the only ones to become part of the acronym that describes the operations involved.

TCP/IP doesn’t just happen. It is an active process; a set of constant communications between private computers and Internet servers. When a computer tries to log on to the Internet, that computer’s TCP/IP operations send a series of signals to Internet servers looking for a connection. In almost all cases, access is successful. Some exceptions would prevent access from being granted, but these exceptions are rare.

The two layers of TCP/IP are defined by the separate versions in full. The transmission control protocol is the upper layer; one that converts messages or files into data packets that are transmitted over the network connection to the target computer and then reassembled into messages or files that can be read by the target user. The bottom layer of TCP/IP, Internet Protocol, provides the transmission operation, configuring the connection address so that the information gets to the right place. IP could work without TCP even though it was idle, but the reverse is not possible.

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Despite the very evident presence of the word Internet in the detailed version of TCP/IP, the protocol suite can also be used for internal use. Company intranets use TCP/IP protocols to set up a network within the structure of the company’s computer. No external connections develop, but connections are made between the company’s servers and/or mainframes and individual computers. This type of connectivity mimics the TCP/IP connection functionality used for Internet connections.

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