What is a computer port

A computer port serves as an interface for sending and receiving data between the computer and other computers or peripheral devices. A computer port is a slot or socket on a computer into which a connector, usually containing a cable, is plugged. Ports that allow you to connect devices are usually found on the back, front, or side of a computer.

There are internal ports for connecting devices such as hard drives, CD/DVD drives, and other internal devices. External ports allow you to connect printers, mice, keyboards, tablets, mobile phones and other external devices.

Certain computers now come with a VGA port to connect your monitor, several USB ports to connect your mouse, monitor, external hard drive, DVD burner, or other external device. One or more DVI or HDMI ports to connect monitors with better resolution, Ethernet port for connection to the network, a port to connect speakers, another to connect a microphone, etc.


A computer port has the following characteristics:

  • Ports are slots on the motherboard into which a device cable is plugged.
  • The access slots that a computer has are also known as input/output ports (I/O ports).
  • External devices connect to the computer through a connector designed for the port that usually has a cable attached to it.

Port Types

There are two main types of computer ports: physical port and virtual port.

physical ports

They are used to connect a peripheral device to a computer using a cable and plug. The most common physical computer ports are:

  • Serial
  • Parallel
  • PS/2
  • VGA
  • Firewire
  • Universal Serial Bus (USB)
  • Modem
  • Games
  • DVI (Digital Video Interface)
  • HDMI
  • DisplayPort
  • S-Video
  • eSata
  • Thunderbolt

virtual ports

They are data gates that allow a software application (usually network) to use hardware resources without any interference. These computer ports (network ports) are defined by the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) and are used by TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), UDP (User Datagram Protocol), DCCP (Datagram Congestion Control Protocol) and SCTP (Transmission Control Protocol Stream).

Examples of the most common virtual ports are:

  • FTP ( File transfer Protocol )
  • PPTP (Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol)
  • SFTP ( Secret / Secure File Transfer )
  • NTP ( Network Time Protocol )
  • HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)
  • SMTP ( Simple Mail Transfer Protocol )
  • SQL ( Structured Query Language )

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