Routing Information Protocol: Definition, Function & Versions

Instructor: Erik Rodriguez

Erik has experience working in Cybersecurity and has a Master's of Science in Information Systems.

In this lesson, we will discuss what the Routing Information Protocol is and how routers use it to determine the most efficient network path in which to send data. Additionally, we will briefly discuss the two versions of the protocol and the differences between them.

The Fastest Route

Suppose that you need to go grocery shopping. Do you simply get in your car and drive aimlessly around town until eventually you (hopefully) arrive at the grocery store or do you have a specific route planned out? Odds are, you have a dedicated route that you know will get you to and from the grocery store in as little time as possible. In like manner, routers attempt to find the most efficient path when sending data through a network. But, how exactly do they do this?

What is the Routing Information Protocol?

The Routing Information Protocol, or simply RIP, is a standard used by routers that dictates how data should be shared between a group of individual networks, otherwise known as Local Area Networks. RIP enables routers to determine which path is the most efficient when sending data along the network. In order to do this, RIP utilizes hops, the path a data packet travels through to reach each router, as a way to measure which route is most efficient. Additionally, RIP enables routers to dynamically update the routes they use to send data.

How Does RIP Work?

All routers that utilize RIP contain a dynamic list of all the destinations it can send data to. This list, also known as a routing table, is then shared by the router with the other routers it is connected to. This list is dynamic in the sense that routers are able to update the routing table when a particular path is found to be shorter or longer than before. Once the routing table is updated by a router, it is once again shared with the rest of the routers until each of them have the most up-to-date roadmaps for sending data. Additionally, RIP allows routers to remove paths if they are determined to be unreachable or if they are more than 15 hops away. RIP limits the distance that a data packet can travel to 15 hops.

RIP Versions

There are two main versions of the Routing Information Protocol. The main difference between both versions is that RIP Version 1 utilizes classful routing whereas RIP Version 2 uses classless routing. Classful routing refers to protocols that do not carry a subnet mask, a set number of available IP addresses available in a network. On the other hand, classless routing does carry subnet masks. This distinction is important because the version of RIP that is used by a router will determine how it handles its routing table and the data that travels through the network.

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