Using the internet is so much fun, but there are a lot of concepts which make it what it is. One such important concept is the IP Address and follows it is the ports concept.
Well anyways for a normal internet user, there is no necessity in understanding these because your web browser takes care of all this, but for you enthusiasts; this article on ports will walk you through what ports mean and your knowledge levels of the internet’s functioning are sure to boost a step further.
What are Ports, anyway?
Just like a hardware port helps connect devices to your computer, every computer on the internet connects to the other through a port. These ports are numbered based on their functionality and for programming purposes. And the most common ports are from 0 to 1023 are reserved for internet.
Since IP Address provides unique identification to all computers within the internet, ports provide efficient and non-interfering data transfer. There are two different types of ports and they operate in two different methods: TCP and UDP.
What TCP means?
Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), like already mentioned is a method in which the computers connect to each other over the internet. In this method, the two computers are connected directly with each other. The computer which is sending the information stays connected with to the recipient computer until the data transfer is completed and then the connection is closed.
This method is much efficient and reliable to the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) in which there is no guarantee of the data being received at the destination; but this isn’t the case with the TCP method. Anyway, both TCP and UDP ports are used.
Now that you are already aware that your computer’s identity on the internet is determined by its IP Address, now let us look at what happens then after.
As your computer is to accept information it is being sent from, say a web server, it does it via one of its UDP or TCP ports.
If you are uncomfortable in understanding what ports are, don’t worry it really is too technical. But to simplify things for you, here is a real life example you can relate all the jargon you have read about till now.
You can look at it more like, your T.Vs cable connection. First the operator has to uniquely identify your device with its serial number and sends you cable. Now it’s upon you to select a channel among the lot based on show you want to watch. So here the serial number of your cable set is analogous to IP Address and the channel you choose for watching your desired show is the port, the cable is the TCP or UDP.
Right now your IP Address is associated with over a 65,000+ UDP and another 65,000+ TCP ports. And one among them is port 80 – the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, port 25 – for mails (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), port 20 and 21 for FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server application and so forth. All such prominent services have their ports assigned with particular numbers and this is the port number by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).
Like mentioned earlier, there are port numbers from 0 to 65535; of which 0 to 1023 are reserved for privileged services also called the ‘well-known ports’. The ports from 1024 to 49151 are ports which can be registered by any software corporations. And the ports from 49152 to 65535 are private and can be used by just about anyone.
Should you bother about Ports and Port Numbers?
Like we have started off with this point, you don’t really have to worry if these ports work properly or not. The processing of all these port numbers is taken care of by the network hardware and software. The real thing is you wouldn’t even come across them while using your network features. But it is purely to build your knowledge about how internet and ultimately computers work.