Surely you have already heard or read information about network protocol such as TCP or IP on various portals. However, have you ever wondered how they work? Is it possible to use them with other protocols? This guide will help you answer these questions and give you the essential knowledge to develop strong networking skills.

What is a Network Protocol?

What is a Network Protocol_

Humans communicate and transfer information with other humans using communication protocols. Something comparable happens in computing; the equipment part of a connection system conforms to a set of standards, rules, and guidelines that make communication efficient, known as the network protocol. In other words, you could say that a network protocol refers to practices and criteria that determine how the different components of a computer system should communicate with each other.

Finally, it should be prominent that there are different forms of data transmission in computer networks:


It is one in which communication is only established between two nodes. The router can reach the node directly, but if not, we should use IP routing technologies if it is on a different network or subnet. The rest of the network cannot reply or acknowledge the data with this transmission. (Example: browsing web pages, sending emails, downloading a file, telephone conversation between two people, etc.)


Information is sent from one node to a group of nodes simultaneously. In other words, a node sends a message, and several group recipients receive the same. (Example: IRC (Internet Relay Chat), a conference between several people…).


A node broadcasts a message to all nodes in the network simultaneously. In this case, the recipients are not visible, and the sender does not know the addresses of the others since the participants announce their address when they connect directly to the sender. The primary function of this type of transmission is to connect all the devices on the network, which allows mass dissemination of information without having to send it more than once.

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Types of Network Protocols and Their Functions

To explain the types of network protocols and their functions, we will base ourselves on the OSI model and each layer. This pattern has no direct use today, but it is the basis for many of the most widely used protocols.

The OSI model represents the set of steps by which communication between computing devices will be possible. It consists of 7 layers, which are read from top to bottom when the message goes out and vice versa when the message arrives

Application Layer

End users can see the interface; for example, when we send a message with a program (Facebook, WhatsApp) or watch a video, we interact with this layer.

  • Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
  • Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
  • Secure shell (SSH)
  • Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)
  • Domain Name System (DNS)

Presentation Layer

It is responsible for translating the format you want to see what you are asking for (sending messages, watching animated videos, etc.).So, for example, if we want to download a file, its extension is processed by this layer, and we can see it in the application layer.

  • Apple File Protocol (AFP)
  • Network File System (NFS)

 Session Layer

The layer manages the conversation between our device and the remote device. For example, when we request a file located on another computer, this layer opens the communication, performs the authorization, and keeps the devices connected.

  • Basic Network Input/Output System (NetBIOS)
  • Internet Storage Name Service (ISNS)
  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
  • Session Advertisement Protocol (SAP)

How do the Different Protocols Differ?

Several participants or nodes in the communication: This is related to what was described in one of the above sections, where we pointed out that there are different forms of data transmission in computer networks (unicast (a single receiver), multicast (a group number of recipients), broadcast (as recipients all members of the web).

 Type of Data Transfer

It means how the data travels through the network (simplex (one-way), half-duplex (sending data in both directions, but not at the same time), or full-duplex (sending data in both addresses at the same time)

 Hierarchy of Communication Members

Communication can be symmetric or asymmetric depending on the type of hierarchy between nodes.

Connection Mode

Protocols are divided into connection-oriented and non-connection-oriented protocols. The former is responsible for verifying that the information has arrived and been understood by the recipient. The latter is not responsible for confirming it but instead sends much less information faster and does not resend the messages. Data in case an error occurred during transmission.


A communication protocol is a system of rules that allows two or more entities of a communications system to transmit information via any variation of a physical quantity. The protocol defines the rules, syntax, semantics, and synchronization of communication and possible error recovery methods.

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