Although UDP does not include the reliability and flow control mechanisms of TCP, as shown in the figure, UDP’s low overhead data delivery makes it an ideal transport protocol for applications that can tolerate some data loss. The pieces of communication in UDP are called datagrams. These datagrams are sent as best effort by the transport layer protocol. A few applications that use UDP are Domain Name System (DNS), video streaming, and Voice over IP (VoIP).

One of the most important requirements for delivering live video and voice over the network is that the data continues to flow quickly. Video and voice applications can tolerate some data loss with minimal or no noticeable effect, and are perfectly suited to UDP.

UDP is a stateless protocol, meaning neither the client, nor the server, is obligated to keep track of the state of the communication session. As shown in the figure, UDP is not concerned with reliability or flow control. Data may be lost or received out of sequence without any UDP mechanisms to recover or reorder the data. If reliability is required when using UDP as the transport protocol, it must be handled by the application.