You shouldn’t be bothered about your Internet usage if you are on an unlimited data plan. However, for those who are on limited plan, tracking your Internet usage could make a difference between saving or wasting few hundreds dollars of Internet bill. In addition, some ISPs do restrict your account if they think you have utilized too much of the bandwidth, so it would be helpful to find out how much bandwidth you have utilized as you surf the web.
Windows 7 doesn’t come with a native application for you to track your Internet usage, but there are several useful and lightweight third-party apps that can easily get the job done.
1. NetStat Live
NetStat Live (NSL) is a small, easy to use TCP/IP protocol monitor which records all incoming and outgoing traffic (the bandwidth, not the data) and lets you see the exact throughput on both incoming and outgoing data. To put it simply, it measures your Internet usage and display them in a easy to read format.
If you noticed, NetStats Live is more than just a bandwidth monitor. It also tracks your CPU usage and show you how quickly your data goes from your computer to another computer on the Internet. So if your Internet connection is slow, you can find out which point of connection is slowing down the data transmission.
tbbMeter is a bandwidth meter to help you monitor your Internet usage. It comes with a graph to allow you to see how much data your computer is sending to and receiving from the Internet in real time.
The good thing about tbbMeter is that it is highly configurable. You can change the visual style to show animated icon, scrolling graph or bar meter and get it to display the traffic for all Internet connection or only for local connection.
There is also plenty of test tools that you can use to test your Internet connection. My personal favorite is the Speedtest that measure how fast my Internet connection is.
There are many more features in tbbMeter that are not mentioned above. You really have to try it out to see how useful it is.
3. BitMeter OS
BitMeter OS is slightly different in that it is cross-platform compatible and it works from your browser rather than a standalone application.
Once installed and started up, it will fire up your browser and display the traffic graph in a new tab.
The main page shows the traffic graph, but you can also select to view the History, Summary, Query (for a specific date range) and even set a alert when your network usage goes above a certain amount.
For those who love a clean interface without clutter and need the ability to zoom into a specific date in the history, BitMeter OS is the one for you.
FreeMeter is a small and portable application that acts like a widget on your desktop. It used to be open source, but the developer took down the Open Source tag because someone took the code, rebrand it and publish it as their own. The latest version is now closed source and is only available for download on the developer’s website.
This application is pretty simple. It tracks your traffic usage and show them on the graph, real-time. There is no history or summary feature, but you can run the ping utility to see if a site is up. For those who need a small tool to monitor a spike in Internet usage, this is the one to go for.
5. Bandwidth Vista
If you need to know the geo-location and IP of the connection that you are making to and from, then Bandwidth Vista is the application for you. Once installed and activated, you will see a map of the world and the traffic graph at the bottom of the map. Points are placed on the map to show the countries/locations of the connection made.
Other features of Bandwidth Vista include a ping utility and an alert function to notify you of excessive data usage.
Which is your favorite application to track Internet usage?
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