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Difference between OSI and TCP/IP Model

Difference between OSI and TCP/IP Model

When you are studying for your networking certification, you will come across the OSI and TCP/IP models. These two models are foundational in understanding networking technologies and concepts. However, they are also often confused with one another. In this blog post, we will differentiate between the two models and explain their purposes. Stay tuned!

What is OSI Model?

  • The OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) Model is a conceptual framework used in the design and communication of network protocols. It breaks down the steps, or layers, required for successful communication between two devices. These seven layers include physical, data link, network, transport, session, presentation, and application layers.
  • Each layer serves a specific purpose in the process of sending and receiving information. For example, the physical layer is responsible for transmitting raw data over a physical medium such as Ethernet cables or wireless signals.
  • The application layer allows user applications to access network services and communicate with other applications on different systems. Understanding OSI Model helps network professionals troubleshoot problems and effectively communicate with colleagues about networking issues.

What is TCP/IP Model?

  • The TCP/IP Model is a conceptual model that is used to guide the design and implementation of network communication systems. It is comprised of four layers: the application layer, the transport layer, the internet layer, and the network access layer.
  • Each layer has specific functions and protocols that allow for communication between devices on a network. The TCP/IP Model is commonly used in conjunction with the OSI Model, another conceptual model for networking. Together, they provide a comprehensive framework for understanding and designing networks.
  • In TCP/IP, the application layer deals with how applications access network services and allow for user interaction. The transport layer manages communication between devices and ensures reliable data transfer through its TCP protocol.

Difference between OSI and TCP/IP Model

  • The OSI Model, developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), is a conceptual framework used to guide networking and communication protocols. It breaks down network functions into seven distinct layers, each with its own set of responsibilities and protocols.
  • The TCP/IP Model, on the other hand, was developed by the Department of Defense as a practical approach for implementing networks. It has four layers that overlap with those in the OSI model, but are organized differently and focus more on functionality rather than a strict hierarchy.
  • One key difference between these models is their scope: the OSI Model is more comprehensive and includes all aspects of network communications, while the TCP/IP Model focuses specifically on Internet Protocols.


The TCP/IP model is a more modern, simplified view of networking that is widely used in the world today. While it may not be as accurate as the OSI model when describing every little detail of networking, it is much easier to understand and use for most people. If you are studying for an exam on computer networking or trying to learn about how the internet works, make sure you are familiar with both models- but focus on understanding the TCP/IP model first.

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