Bandwidth speeds (or lack thereof) are often a mystery. Your provider says one thing but reality is often another. Sometimes problems will be due to the large number of people logged on at once, other times it’s your provider cramming too many people through one data line. However, if you’re suffering from some severely fluctuating bandwidth speeds that are really getting you down, it might be worth using a few bandwidth analyser tools to get to the bottom of it.
One analyser worth checking out is Softperfect Bandwidth Manager. This program aims to spot major bottlenecks where a network of computers are connected to the same server or router. The software monitors your network traffic and can even limit bandwidth according to parameters you specify. This can be really useful for small businesses that have lots of people connected at once but are experiencing bandwidth issues. It can also be useful for those people who perhaps share an internet connection with others at home. There’s nothing worse than someone hogging all the bandwidth with P2P apps whilst it takes you ages just to check your e-mail. With this tool, you can limit bandwidth according to the user, meaning it’s spread more evenly.
If the above intimidates you, then Actual Bandwidth does pretty much the same thing but in a more user friendly interface. The program presents information in easy to read graphs, numeric displays, and system tray icons that update in real-time. The developers also claim it works with just about any internet connection including good old dial-up.
If you need something that goes into a bit more detail about your TCP/IP stats though, then you’ll be better of trying EMSA Bandwidth Monitor. This program allows you to view extended Net adapter interface settings, such as MAC address, speed and analyse data per interface or as a whole. It can also be set to automatically start when it detects an internet connection so it runs in the background while you get on with more important things than swearing down the phone at your ISP!