Routing protocols allow routers to dynamically share information about remote networks and automatically add this information to their own routing tables; see the animation in the figure.

Routing protocols determine the best path, or route, to each network. That route is then added to the routing table. A primary benefit of dynamic routing protocols is that routers exchange routing information when there is a topology change. This exchange allows routers to automatically learn about new networks and also to find alternate paths when there is a link failure to a current network.

Compared to static routing, dynamic routing protocols require less administrative overhead. However, the expense of using dynamic routing protocols is dedicating part of a router’s resources for protocol operation, including CPU time and network link bandwidth. Despite the benefits of dynamic routing, static routing still has its place. There are times when static routing is more appropriate and other times when dynamic routing is the better choice. Networks with moderate levels of complexity may have both static and dynamic routing configured.