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How To Monitor Bandwidth Usage

Sunday, November 25th, 2012 by | Filed Under: Software Reviews, Using The Internet
 
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Linda from TX writes:

I have satellite Internet service. I get notices from the company that I am or have exceeded my bandwidth. Then my access is slowed down to dial-up speeds. I think I am a normal computer user with lots of email and a couple of games I play on Facebook. I don’t watch videos, play music or download movies. I find this situation very frustrating and wondered if you could offer some insight on how to keep track of just how much is downloaded and uploaded. My problem seems to be in the uploading area. Thank you.

Bandwidth caps, which are limits to the amount you can upload (send) and download (receive) using your Internet connection, used to be limited to satellite Internet providers, but in recent years have expanded to hard line (cable/DSL) and cellular Internet companies. The claim made by these companies (and mostly legitimately so) is that the amount of bandwidth they can provide to a given area is fixed, so if a few customers are using a disproportionately large percent of that bandwidth, everyone else suffers unfairly. Data caps usually limit a person to a certain number of gigabytes per month of upload and download and after that either charge a fee or reduce speeds significantly.

How do you monitor your usage? Well, the easiest thing to do is see if your provider has a bandwidth monitoring tool built into their service. Most companies who have a data cap will tell you exactly how much is being used and what you have left. You can find out how to access this tool by calling the technical support department of your provider and asking how you would monitor your bandwidth usage.

What if your provider doesn’t have a way to monitor usage or you want an alternate way? The easiest tool I’ve found to do this is iTraffic Monitor from TRVX. Once you download and install iTraffic Monitor (I would recommend agreeing to install WinPcap during the install process, too, as it allows more advanced filtering) you will be presented with a bandwidth graph window. This graph will show you the total D/L (download) total U/L (upload), peak D/L and U/L and average D/L and U/L.

By default, the software will be configured to filter out any traffic going to the network mask of 255.255.255.0, which is the local area network. You can disable this if you wanted to monitor for local traffic, not just Internet usage (say if you wanted to see how much bandwidth your sending to a local server in a business network) by right-clicking on the graph and clicking setup. In the Advanced Network tab, uncheck Advanced Network Filtering and uncheck Ignore local network traffic.

Also in the setup options you can select how the graph will display information and what scale the graph will be in under the Graph-1 and Graph-2 tab. Under the options tab you can set the program to load when Windows starts.

If you press F2, or right click the graph and click Reports you can see daily, weekly, monthly and yearly reports for bandwidth usage, which will let you determine how much you’ve used in those periods.

How do you use it to determine what is using your bandwidth? The easiest way is the process of elimination. With the iTraffic Monitor running, open and close programs, do normal tasks and monitor what is using bandwidth. For example, when I explained this program to a coworker he was shocked to find out that streaming radio service he uses while shipping was using over 450 megabytes per day of bandwidth. (16 KBytes/sec x 60 seconds x 60 minutes x 8 hours a day = 460,800. To convert KByes to megabytes divide by 1024.)

You can download iTraffic Monitor by clicking here.

~Tim

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3 Responses to “How To Monitor Bandwidth Usage”

  1. Mae says:

    Many programs on the startup and Desktop may continually contact the internet. Stopping email from looking for new messages frequently may help.Facebook and the other that constantly check I expect use up bandwidth so turn off the computer at night and when not home should help.

  2. Calvin says:

    I had this same trouble after having WildBlue for years with no trouble, a teen family member had used my computer all night and after he left a few weeks later I noticed my speed was down slower than dial-up, I contacted the ISP and they said I was up loading away past my cap. I started searching and found games that I had never saw before, I deleted them and some other things that I thought might be up-loading, I watched the page they had that showed my down-loads and up-loads. My ISP runs on a 30 day rollover so it took awhile before I started getting back down below the cap. I now have no trouble with it, I guess the game he had installed was working all of the time the computer was on. Check your games and other programs to see if any are doing the same to you.

  3. Dennis says:

    My wife and I are experiencing the same thing with Hughes net….we had shutdown ALL of our computers and laptops…went to bed with 19% left out of a 10GB cap and when we awoke the next morning…we were down to 13%…of course we called to find out where the 6% went when we had everything shut off…their “tech” told us to unplug the modem and router and we shouldn’t have any more problems…we both do online gaming along with facebook, etc. But, if ALL computers and laptops were shut down…nothing being used, then how did we use 6% overnight…ugh

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