Restrictions on data transmission on the Internet are becoming more common in the US. ISPs may claim their data limits are good for “millions of emails,” but emails are small and HD videos on Netflix are much, much larger.

Follow our tips to deal with internet bandwidth limitations to cut down on data usage, especially when streaming video. Some ISPs may limit the speed of your internet connection after a certain point.

Use GlassWire to Monitor Your Bandwidth


GlassWire is a great Windows firewall app that does a lot more than just block incoming connections. It’s also amazing for monitoring bandwidth usage.

The default view at startup shows a real-time graph of all network activity, which is pretty good, but once you hit the Usage tab, you’ll see the real power of this app.

You can watch your connection’s bandwidth usage, whether it’s incoming or outgoing, and even drill down into individual applications to pinpoint what’s taking up so much bandwidth.

Want to know what hosts your applications connect to and what type of traffic it refers to? You can also easily see it. And, of course, you can go deeper into the details, or zoom in just to the last day.

The basic version of GlassWire is free for everyone, but if you want more features, you’ll have to pay for the full version.


It’s definitely a great app and we highly recommend it.

Check your ISP’s web interface

RELATED: How to Deal with Internet Bandwidth Limitations

If your ISP is tracking your bandwidth usage and keeping you limited, they will likely provide a page on their account website where it displays how much data you have used in the last month. After all, they are already monitoring their use of your data. Cox calls it «data usage meter», while AT&T calls it «myAT&T usage». Other ISPs call it similar things, usually associated with the word «use».

Your ISP’s tool is the best way to find out how much data you’re using. No matter how much control you have over your own data, your ISP will always use their own numbers to decide how much data you have uploaded and downloaded.

The disadvantage of your ISP is that it may not update very often. For example, some ISPs may update this bandwidth usage indicator every day, while others may update it more frequently. The tools you use yourself can provide you with the most up-to-date bandwidth usage information.


Bandwidth Tracking with Windows 8

RELATED: How to limit and control mobile data usage in Windows 8.1

Windows 8 includes a feature that can keep track of how much bandwidth you’ve used on a connection. It was explicitly introduced to help with mobile data usage and tethering, but you can mark any connection as a «measured connection» to track data usage.

This feature can be useful, but it only works on Windows 8 devices and only monitors one computer. It also doesn’t match your ISP’s billing period. It’s much more useful if you’re monitoring a connection that only your device has access to, such as the mobile data connection built into a Windows tablet.

windows-8.1-view estimated-usage-data-for-communication [4]

Bandwidth Monitoring on Multiple PCs

RELATED: Ask How-To Geek: How can I monitor my bandwidth usage?

We previously recommended Networx for monitoring bandwidth usage. This is a free Windows application that allows you to control the bandwidth used by multiple Windows PCs. Its most useful feature is that it can synchronize network bandwidth reports. So, if you have five different Windows PCs on your home network, you can sync them with Networx to track the bandwidth usage of all PCs in one place. if you only have one computer, no problem — you can use Networx to track bandwidth usage for a single computer.

Unfortunately, this only works on Windows PCs. Networx does not work with Linux systems, Macs, Chromebooks, smartphones, non-Windows tablets, game consoles, set-top boxes, smart TVs, or many other networking systems and devices you may own. Networx is great if you’re only using a Windows PC, but otherwise it’s an incomplete picture.

You will also need to perform additional configuration to ensure that Networx only collects data for your local network. For example, if you install Networx on a laptop and connect that laptop to other Wi-Fi networks, you need to make sure that Networx only uses the data that is used on your home Wi-Fi network.


Monitor data usage on your router

The problem with typical bandwidth monitoring solutions is that they monitor internet connection usage on a single device. In order to measure all the data going in and out of your home network, you need to measure the data usage on the home router itself. Every device, wired or Wi-Fi, connects to the Internet through a router. Tracking data on the router will give you the full picture.

RELATED: How to Use Custom Firmware on Your Router and Why You Can

The bad news is that home routers usually don’t have this feature built in. The good news is that you can install third-party router firmware like DD-WRT or OpenWRT and use bandwidth monitoring software on it to get a complete picture of your bandwidth usage.

For example, you can install DD-WRT, access its web interface, click Status > Bandwidth, and look under the WAN section to see how much bandwidth you used last month.

If your ISP doesn’t provide a reliable way to monitor bandwidth and you need to do it yourself, your best bet might be to buy a well-maintained router and install custom firmware like DD-WRT.


Some third-party programs may use the SNMP monitoring protocol to communicate with the router and show its bandwidth usage, among other network statistics. However, there is a chance that your home router does not support SNMP. SNMP applications are also complex tools designed for professional network administration, not simple tools for displaying a bandwidth usage indicator at home.

Photo Credit: Todd Barnard on Flickr

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