Free Bandwidth Monitors and Meters
Track Your Internet or Network Data Transfers
Free Internet/Network Bandwidth Monitors and Meters
This page lists free tools that let you monitor how much data you're transferring through your computer/network. It is mainly for people who use Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that charge according to how much data you transfer per month. For example, at the time this was written, a US ISP, Comcast, allows its users 250 GB of data traffic per month. Those that exceed that amount of traffic will have to pay for the excess data transferred. The utilities on this page are primarily meant for those who want to monitor their Internet usage, for example, to make sure that they don't exceed the traffic limit or to make sure that their ISP is not overcharging them.
(There is also a tool on this page that measures time spent connected on a dial-up connection, for those who need that sort of monitor.)
There are 3 major categories of free Internet bandwidth monitor/meters listed this page: software that you install on a single computer, and those that you flash into your router's firmware.
For those who use a single computer to connect to the Internet, a standalone tool for a single computer is probably adequate.
Those who have many computers in the home connected to the Internet through a single router won't find those single computer software tools very useful, since it will only monitor network activity on the computer you install it on. In fact, even if you only have a computer, but also have other devices that connect to the Internet like an Xbox360, you will need to monitor bandwidth usage some other way.
For such people, the replacement router firmware listed on this page may be relevant. They are meant to replace your existing router's firmware (which you do at your own risk, of course) so that the router can track the total bandwidth usage in the network. This way, you will hopefully get a better picture of how much Internet bandwidth your entire household is using. (Note: it's also possible that your existing router already has some sort of monitoring facility, so don't dash out to replace its firmware without first checking its existing features.) But of course, you can also easily damage your router this way, "bricking" it (rendering it useless), so look before you leap.
If you have a spare PC lying around in the house, I also list software that can turn that PC into a dedicated firewall/router complete with monitoring facilities. You can then connect your other PCs in your network to this one and use it as a gateway to the Internet.
- NetWorx (Windows)
This program monitors your bandwidth usage and speed either across all your network connections, or on a specific network adapter. Reports can either be viewed on your computer, or exported as an Excel file, a Word file or an HTML file. It works with dial-up connections (PPP), Ethernet cards, ADSL, cable, etc. You can also set it to alert you if your bandwidth usage exceeds a certain amount, or if your network connection is down. The software comes with various network tools, like ping, traceroute and netstat.
- NetMeter Evo (Windows)
NetMeter is a network monitor for Windows Vista and later versions of Windows that shows your upload and download speeds in a graph window.
- ibmonitor: Interactive Bandwidth Monitor (Linux)
This is an interactive console application that monitors and displays the bandwidth consumed and data transferred on all network interfaces (eg web traffic, email traffic, ping, and so on). It breaks down the amount of bandwidth consumed on each interface by the amount received, amount transferred as well as the total. It also calculates things like the average bandwidth you use. This is a Linux program.
- bwmon: Linux Bandwidth Monitor (Linux)
The Linux Bandwidth Monitor, or bwmon, measures the amount of bandwidth used by you on your computer for each network interface. It uses a text user interface (via ncurses/curses). As its name implies, it's a Linux program.
- Logtime: Online Timer for Dial-Up Networking (Windows 9x/ME)
Logtime is a tool for Windows 9x/ME dial-up networking (not broadband) users to measure the time spent (warning: not data transfered) online. Update: this program has reached its end of life (ie, it is no longer maintained nor is it available).
DD-WRT is a third-pary firmware for a wide variety of routers based on a Broadcom or Atheros chip reference design that extend the functionality of those routers in a variety of ways. It is open source and released under the GNU General Public License (an open source licence). Among its features is the ability to provide you statistics on your bandwidth consumption, etc. It has a long list of supported hardware, including routers from Linksys, D-link, Netgear, and so on (too long to list here).
- Tomato Firmware
This firmware is for Broadcom-based routers like Linksys WRT54G/GL/GS and Buffalo WHR-G54S/WHR-HP-G54. Among its features is a bandwidth monitor, advanced access restrictions, raised limits on P2P connections, the ability to run custom scripts, etc. You can see a graph of your bandwidth usage, check the speed, etc.
If you're willing to set up a PC to be a dedicated gateway to the Internet for the others in your house, pfSense is a complete operating system (using FreeBSD) complete with firewall and routing software. Among its many features and extensive reporting options is the ability to monitor the network usage for all computers connected to the Internet through it.
- SmoothWall Express
This is a "security-hardened" Linux distribution designed for use as a network firewall. Included in its features is the ability to see your bandwidth usage by day, week, month, etc.
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