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   A communication channel for computers in networks.


In order for computers connected to the internet to be able to communicate with each other, the
transmission standard "TCP/IP "was designed. TCP/IP is a software protocol for formatting and
transferring data within a network - such as the internet. One of the main advantages of TCP/IP
is that it is not dependant on the computer's operating system. Transmissions between different
operating systems are therefore possible.

Each computer on the internet has an IP-address (IP = Internet Protocol), which is similar in
principle to a telephone number. However, unlike telephone numbers, IP addresses are restricted
in their numerical range. An IP address has the format "###.###.###.###". Four number blocks,
each of which are segmented with dots, and each block can only contain a value from 0 to 255.
The IP address of the emsisoft webserver, for example is "". Enter this into your
web browser to see this in action.

By knowing the IP address in use, a program is therefore able to send data to another computer.
But an essential factor has been left out. How the receiving computer can know which program
to use for the data it receives. For this reason there is a system of port numbers, also known as
ports. With each transmission of data, the data package must contain the receiver's IP, and also
the port number of the program which is responsible.

Imagine ports as a direct dialling number in a phone system. You can reach, for example, a
company under a specific telephone number (0123-45678). If you want to call a specific person
in that company, you call the main number plus the direct-call number (0123-45678-). If the
direct-call number is not existent, you simply won't get a connection. The same thing occurs if
you try to connect with a computer on a port where no service is present.

When you open the website of Emsisoft with your browser, it is always transmitted via port 80
( A complete data transfer always contains the IP address plus the port
number required. This applies to both outgoing data (requests to the webserver) and also the
incoming data - data transmitted from the website itself).

Port numbers can be any number from 0 to 65535. This range is split into three main categories:

‰ 0 to 1023 are "well known ports", meaning they are reserved for special services like FTP
(21), SMTP (25), HTTP (80), POP3 (110), etc.
‰ 1024 to 49151 are "registered ports", meaning they are registered for services.
‰ 49152 to 65536 are "dynamic and/or private ports", meaning that everyone can use these
as required.

Port numbers are managed by the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority).

A port number is a way to identify a specific process to which an Internet or other network
message is to be forwarded when it arrives at a server. For the Transmission Control Protocol
and the User Datagram Protocol, a port number is a 16-bit integer that is put in the header
appended to a message unit. This port number is passed logically between client and server
transport layers and physically between the transport layer and the Internet Protocol layer and
forwarded on.

For example, a request from a client (perhaps on behalf of you at your PC) to a server on the
Internet may request a file be served from that host's File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server or
process. In order to pass your request to the FTP process in the remote server, the Transmission
Control Protocol (TCP) software layer in your computer identifies the port number of 21 (which
by convention is associated with an FTP request) in the 16-bit port number integer that is
appended to your request. At the server, the TCP layer will read the port number of 21 and
forward your request to the FTP program at the server.

Some services or processes have conventionally assigned permanent port numbers. These are
known as well-known port numbers. In other cases, a port number is assigned temporarily (for
the duration of the request and its completion) from a range of assigned port numbers. This is
called an ephemeral port number.


1) On computer and telecommunication devices, a   (noun) is generally a specific place for

being physically connected to some other device, usually with a socket and plug of some kind.
Typically, a personal computer is provided with one or more serial ports and usually one parallel
port. The serial port supports sequential, one bit-at-a-time transmission to peripheral devices
such as scanners and the parallel port supports multiple-bit-at-a-time transmission to devices
such as printers.

2) In programming, a port (noun) is a "logical connection place" and specifically, using the
Internet's protocol, TCP/IP, the way a client program specifies a particular server program on a
computer in a network. Higher-level applications that use TCP/IP such as the Web protocol,
Hypertext Transfer Protocol, have ports with preassigned numbers. These are known as "well-
known ports" that have been assigned by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).
Other application processes are given port numbers dynamically for each connection. When a
service (server program) initially is started, it is said to bind to its designated port number. As
any client program wants to use that server, it also must request to bind to the designated port
Port numbers are from 0 to 65535. Ports 0 to 1024 are reserved for use by certain privileged
services. For the HTTP service, port 80 is defined as a default and it does not have to be
specified in the Uniform Resource Locator (URL).

3) In programming, to port (verb) is to move an application program from an operating system

environment in which it was developed to another operating system environment so it can be run
there. Porting implies some work, but not nearly as much as redeveloping the program in the new
environment. Open standard programming interface (such as those specified in X/Open's 1170 C
language specification and Sun Microsystem's Java programming language) minimize or
eliminate the work required to port a program. Also see portability.