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Understanding OSPF Stub Areas, Totally Stubby Areas, and Not-So-Stubby Areas


Figure 1 shows an autonomous system (AS) across which many external routes are advertised. If external routes make up a significant portion of a topology database, you can suppress the advertisements in areas that do not have links outside the network. By doing so, you can reduce the amount of memory the nodes use to maintain the topology database and free it for other uses.

Figure 1: OSPF AS Network with Stub Areas and NSSAs
OSPF AS Network with Stub
Areas and NSSAs

To control the advertisement of external routes into an area, OSPF uses stub areas. By designating an area border router (ABR) interface to the area as a stub interface, you suppress external route advertisements through the ABR. Instead, the ABR advertises a default route (through itself) in place of the external routes and generates network summary (Type 3) link-state advertisements (LSAs). Packets destined for external routes are automatically sent to the ABR, which acts as a gateway for outbound traffic and routes the traffic appropriately.


You must explicitly configure the ABR to generate a default route when attached to a stub or not-so-stubby-area (NSSA). To inject a default route with a specified metric value into the area, you must configure the default-metric option and specify a metric value.

For example, area in Figure 1 is not directly connected to the outside network. All outbound traffic is routed through the ABR to the backbone and then to the destination addresses. By designating area as a stub area, you reduce the size of the topology database for that area by limiting the route entries to only those routes internal to the area.

A stub area that only allows routes internal to the area and restricts Type 3 LSAs from entering the stub area is often called a totally stubby area. You can convert area to a totally stubby area by configuring the ABR to only advertise and allow the default route to enter into the area. External routes and destinations to other areas are no longer summarized or allowed into a totally stubby area.


If you incorrectly configure a totally stubby area, you might encounter network connectivity issues. You should have advanced knowledge of OSPF and understand your network environment before configuring totally stubby areas.

Similar to area in Figure 1, area has no external connections. However, area has static customer routes that are not internal OSPF routes. You can limit the external route advertisements to the area and advertise the static customer routes by designating the area an NSSA. In an NSSA, the AS boundary router generates NSSA external (Type 7) LSAs and floods them into the NSSA, where they are contained. Type 7 LSAs allow an NSSA to support the presence of AS boundary routers and their corresponding external routing information. The ABR converts Type 7 LSAs into AS external (Type 5 ) LSAs and leaks them to the other areas, but external routes from other areas are not advertised within the NSSA.