OSPF Hello and Dead Interval

OSPF uses hello packets and two timers to check if a neighbor is still alive or not:

  • Hello interval: this defines how often we send the hello packet.
  • Dead interval:  this defines how long we should wait for hello packets before we declare the neighbor dead.

The hello and dead interval values can be different depending on the OSPF network type. On Ethernet interfaces you will see a 10 second hello interval and a 40 second dead interval.

Let’s take a look at an example so we can see this in action. Here’s the topology I will use:


We’ll use two routers with a switch in between.


Let’s enable OSPF:

R1 & R2#
(config)#router ospf 1
(config-router)#network area 0

Let’s take a look at the default hello and dead interval:

R1#show ip ospf interface FastEthernet 0/0 | include intervals
  Timer intervals configured, Hello 10, Dead 40, Wait 40, Retransmit 5

The hello and dead interval can be different for each interface. Above you can see that the hello interval is 10 seconds and the dead interval is 40 seconds. Let’s try if this is true:

R1(config)#interface FastEthernet 0/0

After shutting the interface on R1 you will see the following message:

Aug 30 17:57:05.519: %OSPF-5-ADJCHG: Process 1, Nbr on FastEthernet0/0 from FULL to DOWN, Neighbor Down: Interface down or detached

R1 will know that R2 is unreachable since its interface went down. Now take a look at R2:

Aug 30 17:57:40.863: %OSPF-5-ADJCHG: Process 1, Nbr on FastEthernet0/0 from FULL to DOWN, Neighbor Down: Dead timer expired

R2 is telling us that the dead timer has expired. This took a bit longer. The interface on R1 went down at 17:57:05 and R2’s dead timer expired at 17:57:40…that’s close to 40 seconds.

Let’s activate the interface again:

R1(config)#interface FastEthernet 0/0
R1(config-if)#no shutdown

40 seconds is a long time…R2 will keep sending traffic to R1 while the dead interval is expiring. To speed up this process we can play with the timers. Here’s an example:

R1 & R2
(config)#interface FastEthernet 0/0
(config-if)#ip ospf hello-interval 1 
(config-if)#ip ospf dead-interval 3

You can use these two commands to change the hello and dead interval. We’ll send a hello packet every second and the dead interval is 3 seconds. Let’s verify this:

R1#show ip ospf interface FastEthernet 0/0 | include intervals
  Timer intervals configured, Hello 1, Dead 3, Wait 3, Retransmit 5

Reducing the dead interval from 40 to 3 seconds is a big improvement but we can do even better:

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Forum Replies

  1. If you change the hello and dead time on R1, do you have to make the exact same change on the R2 interface? Do the hello and dead timers have to be the same on both routers?

  2. Hi Jason,

    These have to be match yes, otherwise no neighbor adjacency is established.


  3. Dear Rene,
    Could enabling BFD be better option than reducing dead-hello timers regarding the consuming router resource?
    Which method do you recommend ?

  4. Onur,
    Using Bi-Directional Forwarding Detection is generally considered to be the better option for a couple of reasons:

    1. BFD can detect a downed neighbor much faster than any OSPF timer manipulation
    2. BFD is less CPU intensive than very small OSPF timers because BFD is pushed off to the data plane, whereas OSPF timer events must be processed by the router’s control plane

  5. Dear Rene,

    Many Thanks to you .One question…

    Why Neighbor will not form if Hello/dead Mismatch ?? Could you please explain behind the reason on it ? I think if Hello/Dead is not same on both end then there could be operational related problem like One router release neighbor first while other router still wait, right ??


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