A Network Traffic (Bandwidth) Monitor is a tool that will assist you in keeping an eye on inbound and outbound bandwidth within your network and help you identify which hosts are using the most bandwidth.
Bandwidth Monitoring is important in every network and should be a top priority for all Network engineers and administrators in order to know exactly what is going on in your network at all times.
In many instances, utilizing tools to keep tabs on your network allows for oversight into what is going on in your LAN and potentially catching high-traffic processes, programs and more importantly, users who are abusing precious network resources.
Here is our list of the top bandwidth monitoring software:
- SolarWinds Real-Time Bandwidth Monitor – FREE TRIAL A free system that shows traffic traveling around a network. Installs on Windows Server.
- ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer – FREE TRIAL A network traffic analyzer that can identify applications, sources, and destinations of traffic and spot peak traffic times. Available for Windows Server and Linux.
- PRTG Bandwidth Monitor – A series of traffic sensors are included in this larger collection of system monitors. Installs on Windows Server.
- BitMeter OS A free, open-source network monitor that is a little out of date but shows some very useful traffic throughput graphs. Available for Windows, Linux, and macOS.
- SoftPerfect NetWorx A free network monitor that uses SNMP to detect network performance. Available for Windows and Windows Server.
We've all been in that position where an end-user storms into your office and says the internet or network is almost unusable and all programs and files are taking “Forever” to open up.
The cause can be one of many things, but if you've exhausted all possible end-user remedies (such as diagnosing issues on that individual's actual machine and drilling down into their processes and programs that are running) and the problem still has not been fixed, then its time to take a step back and see if the network has a bottleneck and bandwidth consumption is really the culprit of the issue.
As your Local Networks become more congested with the advent of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) cultures and policies, we're seeing higher consumption on every end of our LAN and are taking further action into seeing what's really going on in our network and who are the top talkers and abusers.
Surprisingly enough, many times Network engineers can spot not only programs that are consuming way too much bandwidth, but users who are taking advantage of lax content filtering policies and using free time in the office to watch streaming videos, browse Youtube, Netflix, Facebook, streaming mp3 websites and much more.
On top of end-users, network admins can also trace odd outbound IP traffic to potentially catch botnets, viruses, and potential security breaches that made their way into the network already.
What should you look for in bandwidth monitoring tools?
We reviewed the market for network traffic monitoring software and analyzed the tools based on the following criteria:
- A system that is able to communicate with switches and routers from all vendors
- Utilities for traffic shaping
- VLAN analysis and management
- The option to select specific conversations
- A top traffic generator report
- An opportunity for a cost-free assessment period through a free trial or a demo
- A good deal that represents a suitable price for the functions offered
With these selection criteria in mind, here's a list of the top bandwidth monitoring software and tools for Windows/Linux we recommend all network engineers, admins, and IT Professional's use within their Perimeter to gain a greater insight into usage of their network resources.
Here's the Top 5 Tools/Software for Monitoring your Bandwidth Usage:
This free Real-Time Bandwidth Monitor software from SolarWinds gives you the luxury of monitoring usage on multiple interfaces at the same time, while creating beautiful graphs to get a great visualization of whats going on in your network. Using this software, you can get a granular view of the usage and utilization of interfaces at once.
The setup of this software is very simple: Add IP address of network device you want to monitor, SNMP version and community string and then chose which interface you want to monitor on that network device.
After that, you set Length of Time you want to data to show on the charts and then set Warning/Critical threshold percentages that will appear on the graph for that particular interface you chose. Then Launch the monitor and let the software collect data and update the charts.
This RTBM tool from SolarWinds is great for ensuring that your load-balancing setup is correctly configured or if your troubleshooting Application network performance issues.
The software also allows you to specify refresh times as low as .5 seconds (or half a Second) to get a truly real-time overview of that interfaces utilization.
We highly Recommend Downloading this FREE Tool and get a glimpse into your network usage – It's Fast, Easy and FREE! Grab it HERE.
Setup takes about 1-2 Mins if you have the IP address and Community string of your Network devices.
ManageEngine has a great little Bandwidth Monitor add-on tool that can be added to their software package to further monitor traffic on your network and monitor bandwidth usage within your perimeter.
The Free version of this tool give you the ability to monitor any 2 Interfaces from a Device, which is bit limited, but will give you the data your are looking for from your router ports.
The add-on gives you the ability to fetch data uses SNMP and see usage details on both Device and Interfaces, instead of only off of Interfaces.
With its agent-less design, there's not need to install anything on your SNMP-enabled devices to interface with the program.
As with other software packages from above, this one also gives you the ability to setup Alerts based on certain thresholds you specify and generate reports based on several parameters, including:
- Volume Utilization
- Interface Speed
- and Packet Transfers
Overall it's a great tool that adds additional value to the OpManager platform, just remember you'll need to have that installed before you can use this free add-on and as we mentioned early, the Free Version only allows capturing data on 2 Interfaces on a device.
Related Post: Best Netflow Analyzers and Collectors for Windows
PRTG is very well known in the Tech industry as providing great tools for pretty good prices. We've included their free version of the tool that allows up to 100 Sensors for Free at no additional cost.
PRTG has a great table detailing what their software is good at and where it lacks in terms of features.
We'll summarize this quickly to show you exactly what the strengths and weaknesses of this software are: Using WMI and SNMP, you can get a good indication of the volume or amount of traffic at the IP level (layer 3 level) and give you a good indication of layer 2 and layer 3 counters and events, including errors and broadcasts you have.
On the flip side, it also acts as a packet sniffer which will give you a good overview of Layer 4 services.
PRTG is a great tool if you looking to really scale up due to their vast list of sensors, alerts and alarms that are built into the program itself. Setup is a little more involved than our Top pick, be aware of that, but nonetheless, it's a great option. You can download a 30-day free trial. The download is free to use indefinitely for up to 100 sensors!
5. SoftPerfect NetWorx
NetWorx is a fairly straight forward tool that we've recently reviewed and are including in this list.
This little Windows tool can run on Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012 – 32 bit and 64 Bit versions.
It has a FREEWare License and has a nifty interface that shows the very basics of monitoring your network traffic locally, along with viewing traffic of networked devices, which can be configured under the “Monitored Interfaces” portion of the Settings section.
This program is meant to monitor your Local Machine, but digging a little further into the documentation, you can see it has the ability to monitor traffic from a router or gateway that uses SNMP or uPnP protocols.
NetWorx will Poll these devices every 1 second to plot all the data on a graph, and if your a home-user and are using a consumer-grade network device, chances are the device will not support polling at that frequent of an interval, but it's still worth a try.
Business Grade routers and gateways will however have the ability send SNMP data that often. Its not a Fully-featured tool, but has the bones to get some good data, especially if you are trying to diagnose a particular machine or application.
Finding the right network traffic monitor for examining whats coming in and going out of your network is a good way of having full control over it.
We recommend you grab one of these Free downloads and test to see which one works the best for your needs.
Some have more options than others, but all-in-all, a good network traffic and bandwidth monitoring software is going to show you the data you need to know – Which Device, Application or User is using the most bandwidth.