How To Track Your Bandwidth Usage

How To Track Your Bandwidth Usage

By Bob Rankin

Useful tools for tracking the internet/bandwidth usage in your household.–PC Pitstop

The days of unlimited Internet use are drawing to a close for many people. As metered bandwidth billing, data allowances, and exorbitant overage fees become more common, it behooves everyone who has such an Internet service plan to continually keep track of how many bytes they’re using. Here’s how to keep tabs on your data usage…

How to Keep Track of Data Usage
Does your Internet service provider (ISP) limit how much data you can use each month? If so, do you know much much they’ll charge if you exceed your data allotment? Do they throttle your download speed if you consume too much data? Even if your plan is “unlimited” there’s probably something buried in your Terms of Service about “excessive, abnormal, or unreasonable” usage.

It’s especially important to keep an eye on your data usage if you have satellite internet, wireless broadband, or a smartphone with a mobile data plan. Outside the USA, data caps are quite common, even on high-speed consumer Internet plans. Some U.S. providers have data caps on consumer DSL and cable internet service.

So it’s smart to find out if your mobile and/or internet provider has data limits, speed throttling for “excessive” use, if they provide any tools to show your usage, and if you’ll get an alert when you’re nearing your limit. A visit to the ISP’s website, or a call to customer service should give you those answers.

Data Bandwidth Monitoring

The problem is, service providers’ data monitoring and overage alerts are not always reliable. This month, I’ve talked with several Verizon Wireless Internet customers who are getting alerts that they are at 90 per cent of their monthly data allowances, or even over them, when Verizon’s own website says they are within 50 to 75 per cent of their data allowances. In case of a billing dispute, your own traffic logs can be invaluable.

Before consumer demand reached critical mass, most network monitoring software was designed for IT pros in business environments. Such programs are far too complex and expensive for the average home user. But a few simple, inexpensive or free programs are now available that provide the information and services that consumers need. The questions most users ask include:

How many gigabytes have been used since the billing period began? Who or what is using how much of our data allowance? How fast are my upload and download speeds? Who is on my home network?

Excerpt shared with permission from Bob Rankin.

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