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RIP vs OSPF: What Is the Difference?

August 22, 2018

The RIP and OSPF are two interior gateway protocols (IGP) that intensively used in computer networks to specify the best routes for data transmission. RIP (Routing Information Protocol) is one of the oldest routing protocols in service, whereas OSPF (Open Shortest Patch First) serves as the most widely adopted IGP for large enterprise networks. Network admins may find themselves in a dilemma when choosing between RIP vs OSPF. So, we will present a detailed description of these two routing protocols and address key RIP vs OSPF differences.

RIP vs OSPF: What Is RIP Protocol?

Routing Information Protocol (RIP), is an example of distance vector routing for local networks. RIP works to deliver the whole routing table to all active interfaces in every 30 seconds. In RIP protocol, hop count is the only metrics to decide the best path to a remote network. Let’s take an example to see how RIP protocol works: Assuming, we have two paths available from the source (R1) to the destination (R7). It is clear that Path 2 will be selected by RIP protocol since it has less hop counts

Path 1: R1-R2-R4-R6-R7

Path 2: R1-R3-R5-R7

Pros and Cons of RIP Protocol

RIP is a great fit for small networks - It’s easy to understand and configure while also being supported by almost all routers. The hop counts of RIP is limited to 15 hops, so any router beyond that distance is considered as infinity, and hence unreachable. When implementing in a large network, RIP can create a traffic bottleneck by multicasting all the routing tables every 30 seconds, and it has very slow network convergence. Since any routing update in RIP will take up great bandwidth, the resources for critical IT processes are hence limited. Moreover, RIP doesn’t support multiple paths on the same route, which may generate more routing loops. While using fixed hop count metric to select the best routes, RIP fails to work when routes are compared based on real-time data. This causes a packet loss and overloads network operations due to repeated processes.

RIP vs OSPF: What Is OSPF in Networking?

OSPF (Open Shortest Path First), a link state routing protocol, is massively adopted in large enterprise networks. OSPF routing protocol collects link state information from routers in the network and determines the routing table information to forward packets. This occurs by creating a topology map for the network. Unlike RIP, OSPF only exchanges routing information when there’s a change in network topology. OSPF best fits for complex networks that comprise multiple subnet working to ease network administration and optimize traffic. It effectively calculates the shortest path with minimum network traffic when the change occurs.

what is ospf in networking

Pros and Cons of OSPF Protocol

Using OSPF protocol demands advanced knowledge about complex networks. So OSPF routing protocol allows routers to calculate routes based on incoming requests. Unlike RIP protocol that has only 15 hops at most, OSPF has no limitations in hop count. So OSPF converges faster than RIP, and has better load balancing. The drawbacks of OSPF, however, is that it doesn’t scale when there are more routers added to the network. And this lack of scalability in OSPF makes it unsuitable for routing across the Internet.

RIP vs OSPF: What Is the Difference?

The RIP and OSPF are the IGP that routing information within an autonomous system, and RIP vs OSPF differs in many aspects.

rip vs ospf difference
 Routing Protocol Type:The RIP is a distance vector protocol whereas the OSPF is a link state protocol. A distance vector protocol uses the distance or hop counts to determine the transmission path. The link state protocol analyzes different sources like the speed, cost and path congestion while identifying the shortest path.
 Network table construction:The RIP requests the routing table from the devices around the router that uses RIP. Then the router consolidated that information and constructs its own routing table. This table is sent to those neighboring devices at a regular interval and the consolidated routing table of the router is updated. In OSPF, the router consolidates routing table by getting only required information from the neighboring devices. It never gets the entire routing table of the devices and the routing table construction is really simpler.
 Hop Count Restriction:The RIP allows only up to 15 hops, whereas in OSPF protocol, there is no such restriction.
 Algorithm used:The RIP routing protocol uses the distance vector algorithm whereas the OSPF uses the shortest path algorithm Dijkstra to determine the transmission routes.
 Network classification:In RIP, the networks are classified as areas and tables. In OSPF, the networks are classified as areas, sub areas, autonomous systems and backbone areas.
 Complexity level:The RIP is relatively simpler whereas the OSPF is much more complex.
 RIP vs OSPF Application:The RIP suits better for smaller networks as it has hop count restrictions. The OSPF serves great for larger networks.

Other RIP vs OSPF differences are presented in the chart below.

Attribute RIP OSPF
Convergence Slow Fast
Network Size For small to medium networks For large and small networks
Need of Device Resources Much less memory and CPU intensive than OSPF Memory and CPU intensive
Need of Network Resources Bandwidth consuming; whole routing table is sent Less than RIP; only small updates are sent
Metric Based on hop count Based on bandwidth
Design Flat network Hierarchical network possible


After comparing RIP vs OSPF differences, it’s clear that RIP is ideal for small networks that are simple and non-hierarchical, whereas OSPF fits best for large and hierarchical enterprise networks. In a complex network, you may have multiple routing protocols operating simultaneously. FS.COM data switch (e.g. 10GbE switch) supports full IPv4/IPv6 routing such as RIP/OSPF/BGP/ECMP routing protocol. We also provide powerful and affordable data center switch, Gigabit PoE switch and copper switch to customer worldwide. Know more about RIP vs OSPF, please contact us at

Related Article: OSPF vs BGP: Which Routing Protocol to Use? Related Article: EIGRP vs OSPF: What’s the Difference?

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