How to configure Administrative Distance

When two or more sources are giving you information about a certain prefix you need to choose which information you are going to use. For example OSPF might tell you to go “left” if you want to reach network X, EIGRP might tell you that you need to go “right”. Who do you trust? OSPF or EIGRP? You can’t put both in the routing table for network X.

The administrative distance solves this problem. When two sources give us information about the exact same network we’ll have to make a decision and it’s done by looking at the administrative distance. Let me show you the different values:

Source Administrative Distance
Directly connected 0
Static route 1
EIGRP summary 5
External BGP 20
IGRP 100
OSPF 110
IS-IS 115
RIP 120
ODR 160
External EIGRP 170
Internal BGP 200
Unknown 255

The lower the better…as you can see EIGRP has a lower administrative distance (90) than OSPF (110) so we will use EIGRP in my example.

Keep in mind:

  • The administrative distance is only local and can be different for each router.
  • The administrative distance can be modified.

Especially when we use redistribution we sometimes have to change the administrative distance. Let me show you how you can do this:

R1(config)#router eigrp 12      
R1(config-router)#distance eigrp 90 160

Above we have EIGRP and with the distance command I can change the administrative distance for EIGRP globally. Internal EIGRP will keep its AD of 90 but external EIGRP will have an AD of 160. You will see this change in the routing table:

R1#show ip route eigrp is subnetted, 1 subnets
D EX [160/1734656] via, 00:00:30, FastEthernet0/0
D EX [160/1734656] via, 00:00:30,FastEthernet0/0

You can verify it by looking at the routing table, the external networks on router R1 now have an AD of 160.

We can change the AD of the other routing protocols as well, here are some examples:

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Forum Replies

  1. Hello Rene,
    about access-list, I have to read in this way: for prefix
    my local router in which run ospf,rip and Eigrp have to put in routing table that one learned by Rip…is it correct my reasoning?
    well we use access-list to permit that prefix is handle only by rip?

  2. Hi Rene,

    Thanks for your post…
    Really a very helpful ans straight forward explanation clearing all doubts…
    Thanks a lot…

  3. Hi David,

    Good question. Administrative distance is always local…it’s never shared between routers.


  4. great article Rene!

    In your lesson you teach that you can change the admin distance for prefixes in RIP, can you do the same in OSPF? is it isn’t possible, what would be the ways that you could do that?

    thanks for your help!

  5. Thanks Rene - “AD is not advertised and is only local to the router” and “AD of 255 can be used to prevent sub-optimal routing or loops,” are both great nuggets of information! All the best for Christmas - Gareth.

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