In order to make the transition to a new Designated Router smoother, there is a Backup Designated Router for each multi- access network. The Backup Designated Router is also adjacent to all routers on the network, and becomes Designated Router when the previous Designated Router fails. If there were no Backup Designated Router, when a new Designated Router became necessary, new adjacencies would have to be formed between the new Designated Router and all other routers attached to the network. Part of the adjacency forming process is the synchronizing of topological databases, which can potentially take quite a long time. During this time, the network would not be available for transit data traffic. The Backup Designated obviates the need to form these adjacencies, since they already exist. This means the period of disruption in transit traffic lasts only as long as it takes to flood the new link state advertisements (which announce the new Designated Router).
The Backup Designated Router does not generate a network links advertisement for the network. (If it did, the transition to a new Designated Router would be even faster. However, this is a tradeoff between database size and speed of convergence when the Designated Router disappears.)
The Backup Designated Router is also elected by the Hello Protocol. Each Hello Packet has a field that specifies the Backup Designated Router for the network.
In some steps of the flooding procedure, the Backup Designated Router plays a passive role, letting the Designated Router do more of the work. This cuts down on the amount of local routing traffic. See Section 13.3 for more information.