Which Network Protocol Is Used to Route IP Addresses?

“Have you ever tried the troubleshooting method of turning it off and on again?” It’s a go-to solution for any issues, especially if you have experience with routers and connecting to Wi-Fi networks at home or in the office. Routers may seem complex. They are not alien technology, although sometimes it feels like they could be.

If only we hadn’t relied on power cycling them whenever something goes wrong. Nevertheless, routers play a role in ensuring reliable internet connectivity. They are particularly crucial in network routing.

Network routing involves determining the path for data to travel across a network, ensuring a connection between devices. Making routing decisions is paramount in achieving an Internet experience. That’s why specific protocols are implemented to guide data toward its destination efficiently.

Let’s examine the complexities of network routing today by taking a look inside the device we refer to as a router. We’ll explore the importance of routers and how routing tables support the routing framework.

What Are Routers?

Let’s start with the basics. We all know those devices that have flickering lights and through which we can connect to the Internet using our smartphones. Have you ever pondered the workings of a router and its significance in network routing discussions?

A router is a piece of hardware used to connect different networks or subnetworks. It plays a role in distributing data across the vast expanse of the Internet.

The amazing device called the router performs two tasks – Managing the flow of traffic and facilitating connectivity for devices.

First and foremost, imagine a router as the Internet’s sorting office for mail. It skillfully handles the flow of information exchanged between two or more networks. It transfers data toward the path by figuring out the IP address and destination associated with it.

Moreover, a router acts as a host allowing multiple devices to partake in an Internet connection extravaganza. Simply put, you can connect your laptop, smartphone, and an array of devices affording them all access to the wonders of the Internet through that singular connection.

Network Routing

Routing, in its explanation, involves selecting the efficient or direct route between two locations. This selection aims to minimize any complications or disruptions.

In the context of IP networks, routing plays a role in facilitating the flow of information, content, and other data across the Internet. Underscoring the importance of IP addresses, IP routing principally depends on determining the intended destination address of the data it seeks to route.

Once the destination is identified, routers employ routing algorithms to establish the route from one network to another, ensuring that data ultimately arrives at its intended endpoint.

The Process of Network Routing

The Process of Network Routing

To properly understand the network routing process, we will have to closely examine the journey that data undertakes from the source device to its destination. Picture this journey as a series of hops from one network to another. Now let’s explore the intricacies of this process.

Step 1. Data is Dispatched Toward a Router.

Similar to how your order bears a delivery address, devices attach IP addresses to data packets. Routers utilize these IP addresses to determine the routes for data transmission.

Step 2. The Router Gathers The Information and Examines The IP Address Included Within.

Upon receiving a data packet, a router diligently scans the IP address it contains. Subsequently, the router cross-references this address with its routing tables. Such a comparison helps the router in determining the path which the data should traverse, ensuring its arrival at its intended endpoint.

Step 3. The Router Proactively Forwards The Data

The router may not always be able to send the data to its intended location. Instead of leveraging information gleaned from routing tables, the router devises a network whereupon the data can hop. This iterative process continues until the data inches closer and closer to its destination.

Step 4. The Process Continues

As the data traverses networks, it encounters routers that determine the most optimal next hop. This dynamic routing ensures that data doesn’t follow a path from its source to the destination. Interestingly this doesn’t pose any problem. Thanks to routing protocols, the data can effortlessly navigate from one network to another, ensuring efficient delivery.

Step 5. Finishing Touch

When the data eventually reaches a router, the router can quickly send the data directly to the specified server or device when the target address is inside the network.

Routing Tables

As previously stated, routers use routing tables to determine the path for data transmission. But what exactly are routing tables?

In simple terms, a routing table works as a record or list within each router. It guides which route the data should take. There is a compilation of destinations in these tables. These destinations are IP address prefixes to which the data can be sent.

Once the data packet arrives at a router, the router examines the IP address. It then cross-references this IP address with a list of destinations, known as the routing table. Then, it decides the route to forward the data.

While this may appear uncomplicated in theory, it’s important to note that routers must constantly consult their routing tables at times per second. This rigorous checking process occurs when handling a volume of traffic. Just imagine how intricate it becomes when managing volumes of traffic.

Types of Routing Tables

In the networking world, one thing has many variations. Likewise, there are different types of routing tables.

Routing tables can be classified into two categories: static and dynamic.

Network administrators manually configure static routing tables. If they are not expressly modified, they remain unchanged. They are often used in smaller networks since larger-scale configurations reduce their effectiveness.

On the other hand, dynamic routing tables possess the ability to update themselves automatically. They employ routing protocols to anticipate the fastest routes for data transmission. Dynamic routing takes into account information about network conditions.

To simplify it, dynamic routing tables function similarly to GPS applications. Dynamic routing algorithms choose the way while avoiding unconnected networks or very congested routers, much like a GPS identifies traffic jams and recalculates the best routes.

Clearly, dynamic routing tables prove to be most appropriate for medium to large networks. As you can imagine, manually updating tables with a number of prefixes and information would be an impractical task.

What is Routing Protocol?

A routing protocol, sometimes known as a routing policy, is a type of network protocol that enables network routers to share routing tables. The routing protocol can improve network efficiency by sorting the data stored in routing tables.

Simply, a routing protocol outlines the mechanism through which routers communicate to share information. It achieves this by utilizing software and employing routing algorithms.

1. The Main Routing Protocols

Routing protocols play a role in facilitating communication among routers and enhancing the stability of networks. Since networks constitute layers that form the Internet, various routing protocols have been developed to cater to its complexity.

Among the routing protocols, three stand out as significant:

2. Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)

Considered the Internets service, BGP assumes the responsibility of processing data and determining the most expedient and optimal route for its transportation. Often this entails traversing systems until the destination is reached. BGP typically operates in conjunction with autonomous systems (AS). It can be secured using RPKI (Resource Public Key Infrastructure).

3. Routing Information Protocol (RIP)

Routing Information Protocol (RIP) is an intradomain routing protocol that relies on the hop count, which represents the number of routers the data must traverse. It is particularly suitable for medium-scale networks.

4. Open Shortest Path First Protocol (OSPF)

On the other hand, Open Shortest Path First Protocol (OSPF) is also an intradomain protocol commonly employed for managing traffic within AS networks, such as those of single enterprises. OSPF is generally regarded as a choice compared to Routing Information Protocol (RIP).


At this point, I hope you are clear about the significance of network routing. Without it, data would risk being lost en route or arriving at its destination significantly delayed.

Tasks like sending an email or accessing a website may seem seamless and quick. However, the underlying mechanisms are more intricate and sophisticated. In order for you to access your desired website in a matter of seconds, routers analyze routing tables millions of times.

Routing protocols and algorithms exert effort to ensure the accurate delivery of data to its intended location.

By optimizing the process, the internet becomes not just swifter but more dependable and secure. So when you connect to your Wi-Fi, take a moment to appreciate the role your router plays in making it all possible.