The Routing Information Protocol (RIP) is a distance-vector routing protocol, which employs the hop count as a routing metric. The hold down time is 180 seconds. RIP prevents routing loops by implementing a limit on the number of hops allowed in a path from the source to a destination. The maximum number of hops allowed for RIP is 15. This hop limit, however, also limits the size of networks that RIP can support. A hop count of 16 is considered an infinite distance and used to deprecate inaccessible, inoperable, or otherwise undesirable routes in the selection process.
RIP implements the split horizon, route poisoning and holddown mechanisms to prevent incorrect routing information from being propagated. These are some of the stability features of RIP. It is also possible to use the so called RMTI (Routing Information Protocol with Metric-based Topology Investigation) algorithm to cope with the count-to-infinity problem. With its help, it is possible to detect every possible loop with a very small computation effort.
Originally each RIP router transmitted full updates every 30 seconds. In the early deployments, routing tables were small enough that the traffic was not significant. As networks grew in size, however, it became evident there could be a massive traffic burst every 30 seconds, even if the routers had been initialized at random times. It was thought, as a result of random initialization, the routing updates would spread out in time, but this was not true in practice. Sally Floyd and Van Jacobson showed in 1994 that, without slight randomization of the update timer, the timers synchronized over time. In most current networking environments, RIP is not the preferred choice for routing as its time to converge and scalability are poor compared to EIGRP, OSPF, or IS-IS (the latter two being link-state routing protocols), and (without RMTI) a hop limit severely limits the size of network it can be used in. However, it is easy to configure, because RIP does not require any parameters on a router unlike other protocols (see here for an animation of basic RIP simulation visualizing RIP configuration and exchanging of Request and Response to discover new routes).
RIP is implemented on top of the User Datagram Protocol as its transport protocol. It is assigned the reserved port number 520.