28 Different Types of Internet Protocols: Plain English Explanations of TCP/IP to FTP

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28 Different Types of Internet Protocols: Plain English Explanations of TCP/IP to FTP

The internet is a major part of our lives. We use it every day without even knowing we’re doing so. We could be sending an email to friends, browsing social media, or even just watching a movie online. All of this is because of the internet. However, it is important to know that the internet works because of the different types of protocols that outline communication. 

What Are Internet Protocols?

Internet protocols are basically standards or rules that outline how we send and receive data over the internet. There are several different types of internet protocols and all have their own particular purpose and use case. It’s important to know and understand all of them so that we can have a better understanding of how the internet functions.

We’re going to discuss 28 specific different types of internet protocols and this should give you a much better understanding of how they work and what their best use case would be. We’ll cover everything from TCP/IP to FTP. These are two very common protocols in use every day.

Types of Internet Protocols: TCP/IP 

This is the most common protocol in use on the internet today. TCP/IP is the backbone of the internet and understanding its operation is crucial for anyone who uses the internet. The name stands for transmission control protocol internet protocol and it is a set of rules that outlines how we exchange data on the internet.

How TCP/IP Works

TCP/IP arranges data into packets and sends them over the internet. It then routes them through several servers and networks until they reach their destination. TCP ensures that packets arrive in order and without errors. IP handles addressing and routing.

Common Uses of TCP/IP

TCP/IP is quite reliable and efficient. It can also support several different uses. You can use it for email and even for streaming video. It is also flexible and we can use it with different types of hardware and operating systems. Unfortunately, TCP/IP is vulnerable to security threats like hacking. This can compromise the integrity of data we are to send. It is sometimes also slow and inefficient depending on the situation.

TCP/IP Image, Source: Shutterstock
TCP/IP arranges data into packets before sending them over the internet.

Types of Internet Protocols: HTTP and HTTPS

HTTP and HTTPS are two internet protocols we use a lot on the web. HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is a protocol that we use to transmit data over the internet HTTPS is HTTP secure and it is a more secure and encrypted version of standard HTTP.

How HTTP and HTTPS Work

HTTP as a protocol we use to transmit data over the internet. If you have surfed the web then most likely you’ve come into contact with HTTP or HTTPS. It was designed for communication between web servers and web clients. So when you enter a website address in the browser or client the request goes to the server or webserver. The server then sends you (the client) the website in the form of HTML, CSS, and Javascript which you see as the website. HTTP can also be used for other types of data transfer and is not just limited to websites. HTTPS is a secure version of HTTP that uses encryption to protect data from interception.

Differences Between HTTP and HTTPS

The main difference between HTTP and HTTPS is that HTTPS uses encryption. HTTPS encrypts the data that is transmitted so that anybody in between cannot view that data even if they intercept it. The other notable difference is that HTTPS uses port 443 whilst HTTP uses port 80.

Importance of HTTPS in Web Security

It is recommended that we use HTTPS because it protects our data from being intercepted by third parties like hackers. Google in fact penalizes sites that do not use HTTPS. You can tell whether a website uses HTTPS  through the padlock icon on the left of the address bar. This padlock can sometimes be green in color. A user trusts a website that uses HTTPS. They would be assured that their data is secure and the website is trusted.

Types of Internet Protocols: FTP

Another type of internet protocol is FTP. It is used to transfer files over a network or the internet. The acronym FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.

How FTP Works

FTP works by establishing a connection between a client and a server. The client then sends a request to the server to transfer a file. The server responds by sending the file. FTP uses two channels. There is a command channel for sending commands between the client and the server and a data channel for transferring the files.

Common Uses of FTP

We use FTP to transfer large files between computers. These can be video, audio, or even archives. Web developers use it to upload and download files on web servers. It is reliable and secure plus most operating systems and applications support it.

The only drawback with FTP is security. It does not provide encryption when data is being sent. This is a vulnerability that can allow anyone with access to the network to intercept the transfer. This disadvantage led to the development of SFTP. SFTP or secure file transfer protocol uses encryption making it more secure than FTP.

Types of Internet Protocols: SSH, Telnet, and SSL

SSH, Telnet, and SSL are three protocols that are made for securely accessing systems remotely. SSH acronym stands for Secure Shell. It is a network protocol that uses cryptography to connect to a remote system.It provides strong encryption, authentication, and integrity protection. This ensures that data transmitted between two systems is secure.

An older protocol is Telnet. It also functions to help connect remotely to a system over a network. It’s not as secure as SSH because it does not use encryption when transmitting data. A hacker or nefarious individual can therefore easily intercept and read the data,

SSL or Secure Sockets Layer is a protocol we use to establish a secure connection between two systems. We use it to secure web traffic between a web server and a client browser. SSL uses a combination of public and private keys to establish a secure connection and encrypt data sent over the network.

Differences Between SSH, Telnet, and SSL

The only difference that separates SSH, Telnet, and SSL is security. They all offer different levels. The most secure of the three is SSH. Next is SSL and last is Telnet. There are however some situations where you don’t worry about security that Telnet is ideal for.

Common Uses of SSH, Telnet, and SSL

System Administrators are the main uses of SSH. They use it to remotely manage servers and other devices on the network. SSL is mainly used over the internet because it is more secure. You’ll find SSL being used in online banking and even e-commerce transactions. Telnet is hardly used as much these days because of its lack of security. For this reason, it is recommended that we use SSH and SSL instead of  Telnet because of the security they offer.

Types of Internet Protocols: DNS, SMTP, POP3, IMAP, SNMP 

There are also internet protocol types that are essential for establishing connections and facilitating communication.


DNS (Domain Name System) is a protocol that translates domain names into IP addresses. It is like a phone address book that helps computers find websites. DNS works by sending a query to a DNS server that has a database of domain names and their corresponding IP addresses. The DNS server responds with the IP address of the requested domain. This allows the computer to establish a connection.


The SMTP protocol (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is used to send email messages across the internet. It operates by connecting to the recipient’s mail server and transferring the message. SMTP is in charge of sending mail, whereas POP3 and IMAP are in charge of receiving mail.


POP3 (Post Office Protocol version 3) is a protocol we use to receive email messages. It connects to the email server, downloads fresh messages to the user’s device, and then deletes them from the server. IMAP has mainly replaced POP3, which was an ancient protocol.


Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) is a protocol we use to receive email messages. It works by connecting to the email server and allows the user to view and edit messages without downloading them. IMAP is more advanced than POP3 and allows for more complex management of email messages.


SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) is a network management protocol that we use to manage and monitor network devices. It operates by sending queries to network devices in order to obtain information about their condition and performance. Network administrators routinely use SNMP to monitor the health and performance of their networks.

Common Uses of DNS, SMTP, POP3, IMAP, and SNMP

You use DNS whenever you connect to a website by using its domain name. SMTP is for sending email messages. We use POP3 and IMAP to receive email messages. Network administrators use SNMP to monitor network devices such as routers, switches, and servers.

Types of email accounts
SMTP is in charge of sending mail, while POP3 and IMAP facilitate receiving mail.


Types of Internet Protocols: RTP, RTSP, DHCP, ARP, ICMP, IGMP

There are also other protocols that play important roles in networking. These protocols are:

  • Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP)
  • Real-time Streaming Protocol (RTSP)
  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)
  • Address Resolution Protocol (ARP)
  • Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP)
  • Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP)

RTP is a protocol that lets us send real-time data over the internet. This can be data like audio and video. We mainly use it in video conferencing, online gaming, and live streaming. RTSP, on the other hand, is a protocol that manages the streaming of real-time multimedia data over the internet. We use it to control and coordinate the delivery of streaming media. You’ll find it used in video streaming services like YouTube.

DHCP is a protocol that automatically assigns IP addresses to devices on a network. It simplifies the process of network configuration and eliminates the need for manual IP address assignments. We use ARP protocol to map an IP address to a physical (MAC) address on a network. It helps devices to identify each other on a network and enables the transmission of data between them.

ICMP is a protocol for error reporting and troubleshooting in IP networks. It gives error messages to devices when there are issues with network connectivity or data transmission. IGMP is a protocol we use to manage multicast group membership in a network. It enables devices to join and leave multicast groups and facilitates the delivery of data to multiple devices simultaneously.


RTP and RTSP work together to enable real-time data transmission over the internet. RTP packages the data into packets and transmits them. RTSP on the other hand manages the streaming of the data. DHCP works by automatically assigning IP addresses to devices on a network. Once a device connects to a network, it will send a request for an IP address to the DHCP server. The server then responds with an available IP address.

ARP works by mapping an IP address to a physical (MAC) address on a network. When a device needs to send data to another device on the network it uses ARP to get the MAC address of the device. ICMP sends error messages to devices when there are issues with network connectivity or data transmission. This helps us to diagnose and troubleshoot network problems. IGMP enables devices to join and leave multicast groups on a network. A device in a multicast group receives data transmitted to that group.

Common Uses of RTP, RTSP, DHCP, ARP, ICMP, and IGMP

We use RTP and RTSP in real-time applications like video conferencing, online gaming, and live streaming. You’ll find DHCP in use in networks to simplify the process of network configuration and IP address assignment. Devices use ARP to identify each other on a network and facilitate data transmission between them.

We use ICMP for error reporting and troubleshooting in IP networks. It helps us to fix and identify issues with network connectivity and data transmission. A network uses IGMP for managing multicast group membership. It enables devices to join and leave multicast groups and enables the simultaneous delivery of data to multiple devices.

static ip vs dynamic ip
DHCP automatically assigns available IP addresses to devices on a network.


Types of Internet Protocols: NTP, BGP, OSPF, RIP, TLS, IPsec, PPTP, L2TP 

  • Network Time Protocol (NTP)
  • Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)
  • Open Shortest Path First (OSPF)
  • Routing Information Protocol (RIP)
  • Transport Layer Security (TLS)
  • Internet Protocol Security (IPsec)
  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
  • Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)

NTP synchronizes computer clocks on a network. BGP is a protocol that allows networks to share routing information. OSPF is a protocol that determines the best route for network traffic. RIP is a protocol that allows routers to share routing information. TLS ensures secure internet communication. The IPsec protocol ensures safe communication between networks or hosts. We create virtual private networks (VPNs) using the PPTP and L2TP protocols.

How NTP, BGP, OSPF, RIP, TLS, IPsec, PPTP, and L2TP Work

NTP works by sending packets of time information between servers and clients on a network. The servers send the time information to the clients, which use it to synchronize their clocks. BGP works by using a system of autonomous systems, or networks, to exchange routing information between networks. OSPF works by building a map of the network and then determining the best path for network data based on that. RIP works by broadcasting routing information to other routers on a network.

TLS works by encrypting data sent between servers and clients using public-key cryptography. IPsec works by encrypting data sent between networks or hosts providing them with a secure connection. PPTP and L2TP both work by creating a tunnel or connection between two devices on the internet. This allows them to communicate securely.

Common Uses of NTP, BGP, OSPF, RIP, TLS, IPsec, PPTP, and L2TP

NTP is commonly used to synchronize the clocks of computers on a network so that they have the same time. BGP is used by internet service providers to exchange routing information between networks to improve routing. OSPF is used by many large organizations to manage their network routing. RIP is commonly used in small networks to manage routing information.

TLS is used by websites to provide secure encrypted communication between servers and clients thereby protecting sensitive data. IPsec is used by companies to create secure connections between their networks and remote employees or partners. PPTP and L2TP are both used to create virtual private networks (VPNs). This allows remote workers to securely access company resources.

Final Thoughts

We have covered 28 different types of internet protocols. These protocols play a crucial role in enabling communication and data transfer over the internet. Every single protocol has its own special features and functions that make it suitable for use in specific situations. These protocols work together to ensure seamless communication between devices connected to the internet. Without these protocols, the internet would not be what it is today.

28 Different Types of Internet Protocols: Plain English Explanations of TCP/IP to FTP FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is an Internet protocol?

It’s standards or rules that outline how communication on the internet takes place.

What are the different types of Internet protocols?

Some common types of Internet protocols include HTTP, FTP, SMTP, TCP, and UDP.

What is the role of HTTP protocol?

The HTTP protocol is used to transfer data on the web for example on websites.

What is the difference between TCP and UDP protocols?

TCP is a reliable protocol that ensures all data is transmitted and received, while UDP is faster but does not guarantee delivery.

How do Internet protocols affect internet speed?

The type of Internet protocol used can impact internet speed, as some protocols prioritize speed over reliability, while others prioritize reliable data transmission.

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