named pipe

Definition of named pipe in The Network Encyclopedia.

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What is Named Pipe?

An interprocess communication (IPC) mechanism that provides reliable, connection-oriented, two-way communication between processes on two computers. Named pipes are one form of client/server communication in Microsoft Windows operating systems and applications.

How It Works

A pipe is a portion of memory reserved for one process to pass information to another. Named pipes are implemented as file system drivers and therefore are opened by requests made from the redirector. They take full advantage of the features of file system drivers, such as security and validation.

Developed originally for Microsoft OS/2 LAN Manager and maintained in recent versions of Windows for backward compatibility, named pipes provide guaranteed delivery of data between computers for distributed applications in a client/server environment. They provide a reliable, one-to-one, bidirectional, connection-oriented form of communication between a client process running on one machine and a server process (service) running on a different machine.

Named pipes are used in the WinLogon process on Windows NT and in client/server applications that use Microsoft SQL Server.


Windows 98 supports client-side named pipes communication for backward compatibility with OS/2 LAN Manager and other applications, but it does not support server-side named pipes. Named pipes consume more server-side memory than other IPC mechanisms (such as Windows Sockets) and generate a bit more network traffic.