Your IT Internet Protocols – The Basics

I travel daily to sites in and around Austin to provide IT services to our customers.  Invariably, a few of those calls will be to perform the simple task of integrating some new device or system in a network environment.  Larger companies with IT staff tackle these problems on a regular basis.   However, this is not for the faint of heart in the small business environment considering the fact that most documentation is either poorly written, excludes too much information or is simply non-existent.

For some, the key to all of this is in understanding Internet Protocols…and I do not mean understanding in a detailed sense.  Having some knowledge of the basics will provide you with the resources to tackle some things yourself or to provide your tech with information that will make his job easier, a.k.a., less time consuming.

The Types of Internet Protocols

TCP/IP –  Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. Created by the Department of Defense.  Actually two protocols but referenced often in this fashion as they are complementary to each other.  These protocols carry out the basic operations of the World Wide Web.   TCP/IP is also used on LAN’s (Local Area Networks) in most offices.

When information is sent over the internet it is sent in pieces or “packets”.  Speed and safety of the transmission is the object.  TCP will create the packets to be sent and put them in order upon reception while checking to make sure nothing gets lost.  If it does, TCP will request a packet be re-sent guaranteeing delivery to the destination.

IP is the strategy used to route the information to the proper destination. Every computer on the internet and on the LAN has an IP address.  Packets sent contain the destination IP of the computer they are being sent to.  These packets may travel through a number of routers before reaching their destination.  IP controls the process of getting everything to the proper computer.

UDP – User Datagram Protocol. A similar but simpler protocol than TCP, is used when small amounts of information are involved.  UDP uses less resources but lacks some of the safety features of TCP.

ICMP – Internet Control Message Protocol.  ICMP is used for diagnostic and management purposes.  If you have heard of “Ping” or “Traceroute”, those are the tools that use ICMP.

POP3 – Post Office Protocol, Version 3. The most common protocol used by computers for receiving email.  POP3 uses TCP for managing transmissions to a POP3 mail server.

SMTP – Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.  This is the most common protocol for sending email.  SMTP also uses TCP.  Email clients must have the address of the POP3 and SMTP servers before receiving and sending email.  Sometimes the addresses can be the same.

IMAP – Internet Message Access Protocol. This mail protocol differs in that it is a protocol for accessing email from your Internet server.  It was designed to provide management of your email by multiple clients allowing the mail to reside on the server until the user explicitly deletes it.

HTTP – Hypertext Transfer Protocol.  The protocol used for the transmission of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) which is the standard for creating Web pages.  HTTP uses TCP/IP to manage web transmissions.

HTTPS – Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer.  Provides encrypted transmission for sensitive data.  When you attempt to pay with a credit card, you should see HTTPS:// proceeding the websites name in the address bar of your browser.

FTP – File Transfer Protocol.  This is the protocol used to send files from one computer to another over a LAN or the Internet.

RDP – Remote Desktop Protocol.  Developed my Microsoft and used primarily in Windows environments to remotely access Windows remote hosts.


Questions about Internet Protocols or Austin IT Services? Contact Magnet Solutions Group today (512) 298-2101


Many Austin business owners will run into IT services issues where you will be exposed to these acronyms.  While they may sound complex you will most likely interact with them passively.  The key here is to just be aware of the terms so you know what systems are involved.

When you cannot connect to a host using Remote Desktop, the problem could be with the TCP or UDP port (3389) being blocked by your firewall or router.

If you add an IP camera to your LAN you may need to configure it with a static IP address.  Should you want to access the camera from home, it will be necessary to open a TCP port in your router.  To compound matter, you may need to forward that port for the WAN (Wide Area Network) public IP address of the router to the Private IP address of the computer on your LAN so TCP/IP can locate the destination.

Sound complicated?  It can be if you have little or no technical experience.  However, now you may be able to determine what protocol issues there may be when deciding to purchase a shiny new IP camera, configure a new email account or decide to start working from home.  Then you can make the attempt yourself or call your favorite IT services company.