In contrast to distance vector routing protocol operation, a router configured with a link-state routing protocol can create a complete view or topology of the network by gathering information from all of the other routers.

To continue our analogy of sign posts, using a link-state routing protocol is like having a complete map of the network topology. The sign posts along the way from source to destination are not necessary, because all link-state routers are using an identical map of the network. A link-state router uses the link-state information to create a topology map and to select the best path to all destination networks in the topology.

RIP-enabled routers send periodic updates of their routing information to their neighbors. Link-state routing protocols do not use periodic updates. After the network has converged, a link-state update is only sent when there is a change in the topology. For example, the link-state update in the animation is not sent until the network goes down.

Click Play in the figure to view link-state operations.

Link-state protocols work best in situations where:

There are two link-state IPv4 IGPs: