Some internet service providers place data caps on the services they provide and the cost for going over these amounts can be quite high. Even if a plan offers you unlimited data, there are often fair usage policies, which can slow down speeds after reaching a certain amount of data usage. This makes monitoring your internet usage very important in order avoid hidden fees and slow internet connections. Luckily, there are some ways for you to easily monitor how much data you are using.
Installing a Bandwidth Monitor on Your Computer
One easy way to track your bandwidth usage is to install a bandwidth monitor on your computer. This method is good if you have one device, which you use the most.
However, the downside of this method is that it only tracks the usage for the computer that it is installed on. This means that if your roommate is constantly going on a Netflix binge, you won’t know how much data they are using. It also won’t give you an idea of how much data other devices are using such as phones or tablets.
There are a few options for both Windows and Mac, most of which are free. If you are a Windows user, Freemeter is an application, which simply and easily monitors bandwidth usage. If you want something that can break the information down into daily, weekly or monthly usage then Networx, is another free application you can download.
If you have a Mac, you can use Activity Monitor, which is built into OS X. This won’t collect bandwidth data and report it to you, but it does keep track of your total usage since your last reboot. If you want something that will keep track of the data, then SurplusMeter is a free download option that will provide you with a report of your data usage.
Monitoring Your Network Data Usage
Since installing a monitor at the computer level can’t keep track of the data usage of all devices on the network, monitoring at the network level may be a better option.
Some routers have built-in traffic monitoring, which you can access by logging in. This will also allow you to set a cap, so you don’t go over your data limit.
However, if your router does not have this ability, you are still able to install firmware that will let you monitor this. For example Tomato is a firmware replacement, which can help you monitor bandwidth. You can find a guide to installing Tomato here, as well as a guide of how to monitor you bandwidth using it.
Monitoring Data Via Your ISP
Many ISP providers offer tools on their websites which allow you to log in and see the totals of bandwidth used. This is really the only measurement that matters, as this is how your ISP will bill you. But you can monitor it on your own for evidence in case of a dispute.
Some ISP providers do not offer these tools if they have unlimited data plans, so be aware of that if you plan to use this method to monitor your data. If you are unhappy with your service provider, there are many with competitive pricepoints available for higher, or even unlimited, data packages.
While data caps and fair usage policies can incur costly fees, you can prevent this by monitoring your bandwidth usage. The best method is to keep track through your internet service provider, but there are many tools available for those who want their own records of their data usage. This can help you avoid high fees and even provide you with evidence should you have a dispute with your internet service provider.