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RIP vs OSPF: What Is the Difference?

Learn the pros and cons of RIP protocol and OSPF protocol to compare RIP vs OSPF

August 22, 2018

The RIP protocol and OSPF protocol 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 Path First) serves as the most widely adopted IGP for large enterprise networks. Network managers may find themselves in a dilemma when choosing between RIP vs OSPF. So, this blog will present a detailed description of these two routing protocols and key RIP vs OSPF differences.

RIP vs OSPF: What Is RIP Protocol in Networking?

RIP (Routing Information Protocol), is an example of distance vector routing for local networks. RIP works to deliver the whole routing table to all active interfaces 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 to the Destination. It is clear that Path 2 will be selected by RIP protocol since it has fewer hop counts.

Pros and Cons of RIP Protocol

Pros:

  • RIP protocol is a great fit for small networks - It’s easy to understand and configure.

  • RIP routing is guaranteed to support almost all routers.

  • RIP does not require an update every time the network topology changes.

Cons:

  • RIP can create a traffic bottleneck as it broadcasts its updates every 30 seconds. Since any routing update in RIP will take up great bandwidth, the resources for critical IT processes are hence limited.

  • The hop counts of RIP are limited to 15 hops, so any router beyond that distance is considered infinity, and hence unreachable.

  • The convergence rate is slow. When any link goes down it takes a lot of time to choose alternate routes.

  • RIP doesn’t support multiple paths on the same route, which may generate more routing loops. While using fixed hop count metrics to select the best routes, RIP fails to work when routes are compared based on real-time data. This causes 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 protocol best fits for complex networks that comprise multiple subnets working to ease network administration and optimize traffic. It effectively calculates the shortest path with minimum network traffic when the change occurs.

Figure: OSPF Design and Terminology

Pros and Cons of OSPF Protocol

Pros:

  • OSPF routing protocol has complete knowledge of network topology, allowing routers to calculate routes based on incoming requests.

  • OSPF protocol has no limitations in hop count, unlike RIP protocol that has only 15 hops at most. So OSPF converges faster than RIP and has better load balancing.

  • OSPF multicasts link-state updates and sends the updates only when there is a change in the network.

Cons:

  • OSPF protocol demands advanced knowledge about complex networks, making it not as easy to learn as some other protocols.

  • OSPF routing doesn’t scale when there are more routers added to the network. The lack of scalability in OSPF protocol makes it unsuitable for routing across the Internet.

  • OSPF protocol maintains multiple copies of routing information, increasing the amount of memory needed.

RIP vs OSPF: What Is the Difference?

RIP and OSPF are Interior Gateway Protocols that routing information within an autonomous system and RIP vs OSPF differs in many aspects.

Features RIP Protocol OSPF Protocol
Routing Protocol Type Distance vector routing protocol (uses the distance or hop counts to determine the transmission path) Link State Routing Protocol (analyzes different sources like the speed, cost, and path congestion while identifying the shortest path)
Network Table Construction The router consolidates the routing table from the neighboring devices to construct its own routing table and sends it to neighboring devices at a regular interval. The router consolidates the routing table by getting only required information from the neighboring devices, never gets the entire routing table.
Default Metric Based on hop count Based on bandwidth
Hop Count Restriction RIP protocol allows only up to 15 hops OSPF protocol has no such restriction
Administrative Distance 120 110
Algorithm Used Bellman-Ford algorithm Dijkstra algorithm
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 relatively simpler much more complex
Network Application RIP suits better for smaller networks as it has hop count restrictions OSPF serves great for larger networks
Design Flat network Hierarchical network possible
Convergence Time Slow Fast
Device Resource Requirements Much less memory and CPU intensive than OSPF Memory and CPU intensive
Network Resource Requirements Bandwidth consuming; whole routing table is sent Less than RIP; only small updates are sent

Table: Key Differences Between RIP and OSPF

Switches Supporting RIP and OSPF

RIP and OSPF, two types of dynamic routing protocols, provide increased scalability over static alternatives and the ability to automatically adjust to network topological changes such as a failed component; rerouting traffic through alternative paths automatically with minimal disruption. If you’re finding switches supporting RIP and OSPF, FS switches can be your cost-effective choices. FS enterprise switch (e.g. L3 Fully Managed Pro 10G switch) supports full IPv4/IPv6 routing such as RIP/OSPF/BGP/ECMP routing protocol. FS also provides powerful and affordable data center switch, Gigabit PoE switch, and copper switch to customers worldwide.


Conclusion

After comparing RIP vs OSPF differences, it’s clear that RIP protocol is ideal for small networks that are simple and non-hierarchical, whereas OSPF protocol fits best for large and hierarchical enterprise networks. In a complex network, you may have multiple routing protocols operating simultaneously. Hope you get the best configuration for your network.


Also look for wiki for RIP vs OSPF vs EIGRP vs BGP? Here are some related articles:

OSPF vs BGP: Which Routing Protocol to Use?

EIGRP vs OSPF: What’s the Difference?

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