What is a Computer Protocol: Concept, Properties and Examples

What is a computer protocol?

We explain what a computer protocol is, its properties and some examples. In addition, what is a network and Internet protocol.

What is a computer protocol

A computer protocol regulates communication between two or more systems.

In computing and telecommunications, we speak of a protocol to refer to a system of rules that regulate communication between two or more systems that transmit information through various physical means.

In other words, protocols are languages or codes of communication between computer systems, defined on the basis of syntax, semantics and synchronization, as well as error recovery methods.

It is therefore up to the protocols to ensure that two or more computer systems can communicate in an efficient and orderly manner, i.e. that they speak the same language.

These languages are implemented through hardware or software, or combinations of both, and give each communication participant an identity and a specific method of information processing.

These protocols can vary greatly and be more or less sophisticated, like secret codes. However, they usually have at least one of the following properties:

  • Detection of the underlying physical connection.
  • Negotiation of connection characteristics.
  • Error correction policy.
  • Establishment of the connection and its termination.
  • What to do in case of sudden loss of connectivity.
  • Security strategies or encryption.
  • Message format.

Examples of computer protocol

A DNS allows you to connect your URL to a specific path.

Some examples of protocol in the computer field are:

  • FTP (File Transfer Protocol). One of the many protocols used to upload or download files at high speeds over a computer network, and that privileges effectiveness over security.
  • DNS (Domain Name Service). A name protocol for Internet Web pages, which allows you to connect your URL to the specific path where the resources and information to be displayed are located.
  • HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol). Also of common use in Internet, it serves to establish the hypertexts or informative jumps between a page and another one, being in addition a programming language that allows the design of the pages properly.
  • POP (Post Office Protocol). Specific for email services, it allows to retrieve messages stored on a remote server (POP Server), especially on intermittent or very slow connections.

Network protocol

Network protocols are used for communication over computer networks.

Network protocols are specially designed for communication through computer networks, which operate by fragmenting the information sent into small parts, rather than all at once.

Parts are easy and quick to transmit, but stored in their proper order to preserve meaning and operate as a whole.

These protocols also operate on the basis of different layers, which allow the establishment of adequate routes to get the information to its destination even if there are no direct connections between the sender and the receiver.

To do this, these layers are handled independently, in two large piles: the one belonging to the transport and the one belonging to the link.

Internet Protocol

  1. An Internet protocol is geared towards two-way communication.
  2. An Internet protocol (or Internet Protocol, or IP) is a type of computer communications protocol oriented towards two-way (origin-destination) communication for transmitting switched packets of information, according to the OSI data link standard.
  3. IPs try to route data packets through the best available route, considering how vast the Internet can be today.
  4. The IP protocols do not guarantee the arrival of the packet to its destination, but they do guarantee the security of sending it, which is why it is considered a “best effort” datagram service, that is to say, without guarantees, so the packets can arrive damaged or in another order. In that sense, they are surpassed by the TCP (Transmission Control Protocols) protocols.
  5. There are already several versions of this protocol, catalogued as IPvX, the most current of which is IPv4, whose depletion of resources already drives the creation and use of IPv6. Versions 0 to 3 were reserved and version 5 is experimental.

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