RIP Distance Vector Routing Protocol

RIP is a distance vector routing protocol and the simplest routing protocol to start with. We’ll start by paying attention to the distance vector class. What does the name distance vector mean?

  • Distance: How far away? In the routing world, we use metrics.
  • Vector: Which direction? In the routing world, we care about which interface and the IP address of the next router to send it to.

I don’t know if you ever go cycling but here in The Netherlands, we have some nice so-called mushroom signposts telling you which way to go and how far (in kilometers) the destination is. The same principle applies to distance vector routing protocols.


If you don’t like cycling, you’ll like the highway signs better:

highway signs

Enough about cycling and highways. Let’s see how distance vector routing protocols operate.

three cisco routers routing tables

In this picture, we have three routers and we are running a distance vector routing protocol (RIP). As we start our routers they build a routing table by default but the only thing they know is their directly connected interfaces. You can see that this information is in their routing table. In red, you can see which interface, and in green, you can see the metric. RIP uses hop count as its metric which is nothing more than counting the number of routers (hops) you have to pass to get to your destination.

Now I’m going to enable distance vector routing. What will happen is that our routers will copy their routing table to their directly connected neighbor. R1 will copy its routing table to R2. R2 will copy its routing table to R3 and the other way around.

If a router receives information about a network it doesn’t know about yet, it will add this information to its routing table:

distance vector copy rt

Take a look at R1, and you will see that it has learned about the /24 and /24 networks from R2. You see that it has added these two items:

  • Interface (Fa1/0. This is the vector part, we know in what direction we have to go.
  • Metric (hop count). This is the distance part, we know how far away the network is. /24 is one hop away, and /24 is two hops away.

Awesome! You also see that R2 and R3 have filled their routing tables.

Every 30 seconds our routers will send a full copy of their routing table to their neighbors who can update their own routing table.

So far so good, our routers are working, and we know the destination to all of our networks…distance vector routing protocols are vulnerable to some problems, however. Let me show you what can go wrong:

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Forum Replies

  1. i have two question

    1- split horizon : it’s not useful to advertise network back to the neighbor through interface which came from this neighbor because he is closer to this network than me. the question is what happen when i learned the same network from another neighbor in the following cases 1-with lower metric
    or 2-higher metric
    or 3- equal metric

    2- question two how split horizon works if we have example
    1-RI connected to R2 and R3
    2-R2 connected to R1and R3
    3-R3 connected to R1and R2

  2. It was my first time to read about the RIP, the way the Protocol is explained is very clear and straight forward. Thanks

  3. Rene,
    I’m using the Boson Netsim 9.0 simulator and I configured a lab to match what you laid out in this lesson, what has me baffled is how and where do you see the hop count message of 16, when I shutdown the interface on my R3 router (LAN) I turned on debug IP Rip on my R2 router to view the updates being sent from R3. I did see the metric count reach 4 and after that the route was deleted for network, I never saw the hop count reach 16…just curious about this.
    Otherwise a very good explanation and write up RIP protocol
    It could be the

    ... Continue reading in our forum

  4. Hi Darren,

    It might be the Boson simulator, you could try this in GNS3 with two routers…see if the output is different than in Boson.


  5. Very Very nice explanation, Thanks

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