We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Difference between a Socket and a Port?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A socket and a port are similar virtual objects within a computer network that work with one another to establish a connection. A port functions like a telephone number, identifying the machine and giving the socket an area to connect, while the socket functions like a cord that ties the computers together. This is the definition of a socket and a port on the software side but, on the hardware side, the port has another definition. A hardware port is a plug with which peripheral devices, such as a mouse or printer, connect with the computer via a cord.

Computers make connections all the time. When someone checks email, goes on the Internet, downloads from a peer-to-peer (P2P) program, or performs any of a variety of other functions, a connection from one computer to another must be formed. Servers and computers typically have a port. The port has a number attached to it, based on its function, and acts much like a phone number. To connect with a server, the computer or the user often needs to know the port number to attach to the computer.

While knowing the port will help make a connection, both a socket and a port are needed to actually tie the computers together. When children make simple phones, they use two plastic cups and a string. The plastic cups are like the two ports on the computers, and the string is like the socket. Just like the string, the socket is bidirectional, so both computers speak and listen to each other simultaneously.

The main differences between a socket and a port are function and location. A port is always on a computer and acts like a docking station. It has its own location and is stationary. A socket does not have a number and moves around, connecting computers and then severing when the connection is finished. A port is only capable of listening, while the socket is able to make both computers hear each other.

Another difference between a socket and a port is that a socket is only software related, while a port has both a software and hardware definition. On the hardware side, a port is used to connect other devices to the computer. When a user connects a mouse to his or her computer, a wire is docked into a port, and the electronic connection is established. Most ports use universal serial bus (USB) technology and are female, but there are rare instances of male computer ports.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon991035 — On May 22, 2015

What does a blue or red color rj11 coupler mean?

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.