We have inherited a ring topology with 12 switches configured with MSTP. Each switch is either 4 or 8 ports but in general most are 4 port with 2 fiber uplinks that form the ring.

We are getting a what appears to be a significant number of topology changes in the stats:

stats from switches show a high number of topology changes: 3185

I`ve looked at a few posts that suggest there is a maximum number of switches/bridges in a ring. Although the posts do relate to RSTP not MSTP.

RSTP recovery time with Ethernet ring

I`m trying to find concrete primary proof that this is the case and to identify the maximum switches in a ring. It may that the maximum is also influenced by MSTP settings of which I have limited knowledge at present.

Kind Regards


  • what is your problem? Your explanation make confusion – infra Aug 15 '19 at 8:29
  • Sorry its running MSTP. So the question: Is there a limit to how many MSTP switches you can have in a ring topology before problems occur? – Aidan Venn Aug 15 '19 at 8:48
  • @user56700 MSTP is downward compatible to RSTP (and even classic STP) for the CIST (see 802.1D Clause 17). – Zac67 Aug 15 '19 at 11:37
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    @AidanVenn With MSTP default parameters, the tree depth must not exceed 7 bridges. – Zac67 Aug 15 '19 at 11:49
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    A ring topology for ethernet switches just is not the way to do it. Remember that every frame to a device not directly connected to the switch will be sent toward to root bridge, and rings (witch are broken by STP into a single line of switches) do not work well that way. The reason it is called a root bridge is that the topology should be a tree topology, not a ring (trees have roots, rings do not). – Ron Maupin Aug 15 '19 at 13:26

stats from switches show a high number of topology changes: 3185

While large STP rings are not always a good design, I doubt that the high number of Topology Changes you observe has to do with ring size.

I suggest reviewing the ports where edge devices are connected. These should be configured as spanning-tree port type edge [trunk] or spanning-tree portfast [trunk] (depending on platform and vendor, the syntax may vary).

If STP edge ports are not configured as such, each time one of them transitions from LRN to FWD state, a STP Topology Change Notification (TCN) will be flooded across the given spanning-tree(s). That will happen if the given attached server or PC boots.

That might readily explain the high number of (apparent) TCs the switches report.

  • Thanks Marc. On site in the next few days and will have a look. – Aidan Venn Aug 15 '19 at 8:52

In addition to Marc's answer:

  • The number of switches is irrelevant. The tree depth is. Even with a ring, MSTP forms a (spanning) tree.
  • Make sure you've defined a root bridge (lowest priority number) and don't just leave that to chance. If some edge switch is randomly elected root, every change triggers at least one TCN.
  • You should also define a failover root bridge (designated, second lowest priority number) to still guarantee a defined tree in case the root bridge is offline.
  • With a switch off the ring elected as root, the total depth may exceed MSTP's design limit of seven bridges in depth (=radius from the root's POV), so the tree never really converges. Trees of that depth require tweaked STP parameters.
  • Better yet, those tree depths and rings should be avoided in general - consider rewiring to a tree topology (=one or two core switches =STP root and designated) plus redundant links where required.
  • thank you (NOT!) for planting that earworm (as in: Peter Maffay's version of "Über sieben Brücken" de.wikipedia.org/wiki/…) in my head. Day completely, utterly ruined! SCNR ;-) – Marc 'netztier' Luethi Aug 15 '19 at 11:58
  • I'm not responsible for Maffay's lapses! Maybe you should supplant that with The Eagles' Seven Bridges Road... – Zac67 Aug 15 '19 at 12:58

Overall answers seem to vary ranging from 7 to 21.

Future designs now use ERP.


  • You should accept your answer so that the question does not keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. – Ron Maupin Feb 11 '20 at 18:10

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