Understanding some common network protocols

Understanding common network protocols

Deeper exploration into the world of inter-computer communications will reveal more and more types of communications (e.g. radio waves, Ethernet, Bluetooth, etc.), their interfaces and the network protocols they use.

This is an ongoing post. Please suggest corrections, explanations, etc. in the comment section at the bottom of this page.

From Techopedia, the term network protocols is defined as “formal standards and policies comprised of rules, procedures and formats that define communication between two or more devices over a network. Network protocols govern the end-to-end processes of timely, secure and managed data or network communication.”

Understanding some common network protocols is written as short notes in an attempt to understand these protocols by comparing their similarities and differences.

Common network protocols

The common network protocols are HTTP, FTP, SCP, SFTP and SSH.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)

  • Network protocol supporting transferring files (text, graphic images, sound, video, and other multimedia files) on the World Wide Web
  • Uses TCP/UDP port 80
  • Web browsers e.g. Google Chrome & Microsoft Internet Explorer

HTTPS (Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol)

  • Similar to HTTP, but ensures a secure connection using SSL technology
  • Uses TCP/UDP port 443

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

  • Network protocol supporting file transfers and manipulation capabilities between clients and servers on a network
  • Uses TCP/UDP port 21
  • Restricted to FTP directory on server
  • FTP clients e.g. Eclipse IDE

SCP (Secure Copy)

  • Network protocol supporting file transfers (only) between hosts on a network.
  • Part of SSH suite
  • Uses TCP/UDP port 22
  • E.g. WinSCP
  • Can copy file(s) anywhere you have privilege to

SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol)

  • Similar to FTP, but ensures a secure connection
  • Part of SSH suite – uses FTP with an SSH tunnel between client and server
  • Uses TCP/UDP port 22
  • E.g. most FTP clients

SSH (Secure Socket Shell)

  • Network protocol that provides a secure way to access a remote computer by using username/password authentication
  • SSH also refers to the suite of utilities that implement the protocol
  • Uses TCP/UDP port 22
  • E.g. PuTTY & sshpass command


These are not network protocols, but is used with data transfers.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

  • Security technology that provides a secure way between computers establishing an encrypted link between them
  • It is largely aimed at protecting the user’s privacy
  • E.g. HTTPS
  • Used between web servers and web browsers
  • Web server requires a SSL certificate in order to create a Private Key and a Public Key

Notes on Raspbian (Linux)

  • On Raspbian SSH is automatically activated – so SSH protocol can be used

Notes on OpenELEC / Kodi (Linux)

  • On OpenELEC, SSH must be enabled manually for the SSH protocol to be used
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Renier busies himself with improving his English writing, creative web design and his websites, photoshopping, micro-electronics, multiple genres of music, superhero movies and badass series.
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