Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia Closing a Connection: RFC-793 Section 3.5

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A TCP connection may terminate in two ways: (1) the normal TCP close sequence using a FIN handshake, and (2) an "abort" in which one or more RST segments are sent and the connection state is immediately discarded. If a TCP connection is closed by the remote site, the local application MUST be informed whether it closed normally or was aborted.

The normal TCP close sequence delivers buffered data reliably in both directions. Since the two directions of a TCP connection are closed independently, it is possible for a connection to be "half closed," i.e., closed in only one direction, and a host is permitted to continue sending data in the open direction on a half-closed connection.

A host MAY implement a "half-duplex" TCP close sequence, so that an application that has called CLOSE cannot continue to read data from the connection. If such a host issues a CLOSE call while received data is still pending in TCP, or if new data is received after CLOSE is called, its TCP SHOULD send a RST to show that data was lost.

When a connection is closed actively, it MUST linger in TIME-WAIT state for a time 2xMSL (Maximum Segment Lifetime). However, it MAY accept a new SYN from the remote TCP to reopen the connection directly from TIME-WAIT state, if it:

  1. assigns its initial sequence number for the new connection to be larger than the largest sequence number it used on the previous connection incarnation, and

  2. returns to TIME-WAIT state if the SYN turns out to be an old duplicate.


TCP's full-duplex data-preserving close is a feature that is not included in the analogous ISO transport protocol TP4.

Some systems have not implemented half-closed connections, presumably because they do not fit into the I/O model of their particular operating system. On these systems, once an application has called CLOSE, it can no longer read input data from the connection; this is referred to as a "half-duplex" TCP close sequence.

The graceful close algorithm of TCP requires that the connection state remain defined on (at least) one end of the connection, for a timeout period of 2xMSL, i.e., 4 minutes. During this period, the (remote socket, local socket) pair that defines the connection is busy and cannot be reused. To shorten the time that a given port pair is tied up, some TCPs allow a new SYN to be accepted in TIME-WAIT state.

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Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia Closing a Connection: RFC-793 Section 3.5