Routing Protocols: The Rules Governing Your Router

Routers follow rules just like us. These rules make it possible for you to watch your naughty things on the Internet while you’re on your lunch break at work.

Sean Byrne
3 min readMar 19, 2023
This sign is kinda like a protocol. Photo by thom masat


In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to connect to various networks has become a fundamental requirement for most businesses. Networks are made up of various interconnected devices, and the efficient flow of information between these devices is critical for businesses to operate effectively. To ensure the proper functioning of a network, it is necessary to have a set of rules that govern how data is transmitted between devices. These rules are known as routing protocols. In this article, we will discuss the various types of routing protocols and their functions.

Distance-Vector Protocols

Distance-vector protocols are the simplest type of routing protocol. They work by sharing routing tables between routers that are connected to the same network. When a router detects a change in the network, it updates its routing table and shares this information with other routers. The most common distance-vector protocol is the Routing Information Protocol (RIP). RIP uses hop count as its metric to determine the best path to a destination network.

Link-State Protocols

Link-state protocols are more complex than distance-vector protocols. They work by sharing the status of all interface links with all routers in the network. This information includes link speed, whether the link is up or down, and the link’s network number. The most common link-state protocol is the Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) protocol.

Interior Gateway vs. Exterior Gateway

Routing protocols can be classified into two categories: Interior Gateway Protocols (IGPs) and Exterior Gateway Protocols (EGPs). IGPs are used to exchange routing information within an autonomous system, while EGPs are used to exchange routing information between autonomous systems. An autonomous system is a network under the control of a single administrative entity, such as an organization’s internetwork or an Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) network. The Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is an EGP that is commonly used to exchange routing information between two autonomous systems.

Path-Vector Routing Protocol

Path-vector routing protocols are used to analyze the path to each destination network to form a non-looping routing topology. These protocols are commonly used in large-scale networks and data centers.

Routing Protocol or Static Routes?

When it comes to deciding between routing protocols and static routes, there are a few factors to consider. If the network changes frequently, with new networks being added or networks going offline frequently, then routing protocols are the best choice. If there are several alternate paths to many of the networks in the internetwork, routing protocols are again the best choice. Finally, if the internetwork is large, with many networks and remote sites, then routing protocols are the only viable option.


Routing protocols are a critical part of modern networks. They provide the set of rules that govern how data is transmitted between devices, ensuring that the network operates efficiently. By understanding the different types of routing protocols and their functions, businesses can make informed decisions about which protocol to use to ensure their network is secure, reliable, and efficient.