Analyze your network
bandwidth with PRTG
PRTG Bandwidth monitor
supports SNMP, WMI,
Packet Sniffing and Netflow
Bandwidth monitoring with PRTG
What is bandwidth monitoring?
Bandwidth monitoring is a method for measuring the actual bandwidth available on a local system (LAN or WiFi). Bandwidth monitoring tools display real-time data such as download and upload speeds and help prevent network strain. Private individuals and professionals alike use bandwidth monitoring to check for available bandwidth.
Find out who is hogging your bandwidth
"Who is hogging my bandwidth?" - maybe you hear that frustrating question over and over again from your users. They are complaining about a slow network and you need to identify the root of the problem. PRTG helps you determine how much bandwidth your devices and applications are using. Depending on your network and hardware, you can use different protocols like SNMP, flow or packet sniffing.
How to check bandwidth usage
Most bandwidth analysis solutions are only able to check internet traffic on a single device. For measuring all the traffic in your network, you need to monitor the data directly on your routers. Protocols like SNMP, NetFlow or WMI allow you to monitor bandwidth usage of your entire network. By using the Network Bandwidth Analyzer PRTG you get informed about all ingoing and outgoing traffic and see what application or what servers are using up the most bandwidth.
Bandwidth monitoring sensors
The following sensors can be used for bandwidth monitoring with PRTG:
Uses a MIB library file to create sensors that monitor a device via SNMP and provides custom monitoring beyond the standard SNMP sensors of PRTG.
SNMP Library Sensor
Monitors traffic on a device using the RMON standard via SNMP and can show i.a.:
- Transmitted kbit/s
- Packets, CRC Errors, Fragments, Jabbers, and collisions per second
SNMP RMON Sensor
Monitors traffic on a device using SNMP.
SNMP Traffic Sensor
Want to know in detail, what bandwith is? Read on!
Bandwidth is measured as the amount of data that can be transferred from one point to another within a network in a specific amount of time. Typically, bandwidth is expressed as a bitrate and measured in bits per second (bps).
There are several different ways to measure bandwidth. Some measurements are used to calculate current data flow, while others measure maximum flow, typical flow, or what is considered to be good flow.
Bandwidth is also a key concept in several other technological fields. In signal processing, for example, it is used to describe the difference between the upper and lower frequencies in a transmission such as a radio signal and is typically measured in hertz (Hz).
Bandwidth can be compared to water flowing through a pipe. Bandwidth would be the rate at which water (data) flows through the pipe (connection) under various circumstances. Instead of bits per second, we might measure gallons per minute. The amount of water that possibly can flow through the pipe represents the maximum bandwidth, while the amount of water that is currently flowing through the pipe represents the current bandwidth.
Bandwidth was originally measured in bits per second and expressed as bps. However, today’s networks typically have much higher bandwidth than can be comfortably expressed by using such small units. Now it is common to see higher numbers that are denoted with metric prefixes, such as Mbps, (megabits per second), Gbps (gigabits per second), or Tbps (terabits per second).
K = kilo = 1,000 bits
M = mega = 1,000 kilo = 1,000,000 bits
G = giga = 1,000 mega = 1,000,000,000 bits
T = tera = 1,000 giga = 1,000,000,000,000 bits
After terabit, there are petabit, exabit, zettabit, and yottabit, each representing an additional power of 10.
Bandwidth can also be expressed as bytes per second. This is commonly denoted with a capital B. For example, 10 megabytes per second would be expressed as 10 MB/s or 10 MBps.
One byte is eight bits.
Thus, 10 MB/s = 80 Mb/s.
The same metric prefixes can be used with bytes as with bits. Thus, 1 TB/s is one terabyte per second.
Measuring bandwidth is typically done using software or firmware, and a network interface. Common bandwidth measuring utilities include the Test TCP utility (TTCP) and PRTG Network Monitor, for example.
TTCP measures throughput on an IP network between two hosts. One host is the receiver, the other the sender. Each side displays the number of bytes transmitted and the time for each packet to complete the one-way trip.
PRTG provides a graphical interface and charts for measuring bandwidth trends over longer periods of time, and can measure traffic between different interfaces.
Typically, to measure bandwidth, the total amount of traffic sent and received across a specific period of time is counted. The resulting measurements are then expressed as a per-second number.
Another method of measuring bandwidth is to transfer a file, or several files, of known size and count how long the transfer takes. The result is converted into bps by dividing the size of the files by the amount of time the transfer required. Most internet speed tests use this method to calculate the connection speed of a user’s computer to the internet.
While there is no way to measure total available bandwidth, there are many ways to define measured bandwidth, depending on the need.
Theoretical maximum – The highest transmission rate under ideal circumstances. The theoretical maximum transfer rate cannot be achieved in actual installations. Typically, the theoretical maximum is only used for comparison as a way of determining how well a connection is functioning compared to its theoretical maximum potential.
Effective bandwidth – The highest reliable transmission rate. Always lower than the theoretical maximum. Sometimes considered the best usable bandwidth. Necessary for understanding the amount of traffic a connection can support.
Throughput – The average rate of successful data transfer; useful for understanding the typical or usual speed of a connection. Throughput is the size of the transfer divided by the time it takes for the transfer to complete. Measured in bytes per second, throughput can be compared to the effective bandwidth and the theoretical maximum as a way of determining how well the connection is performing.
Goodput – Measures the amount of useful data that is transferred, excluding undesirable data such as packet retransmissions or protocol overhead. Goodput is calculated by dividing the size of the transferred file by the amount of time the transfer took.
Total transfer method – Counts all traffic across a period of set time, typically a month. This is most useful for billing based on how much bandwidth is used.
95th percentile method – To avoid having bandwidth measurements skewed by spikes in usage, carriers often use the 95th percentile method. The idea is to continuously measure bandwidth usage over time, and then remove the top 5 percent of use. This is useful for billing based on how much bandwidth is ‘normally’ used in a set period.
In real world networks, bandwidth varies over time depending on use and network connections. As a result, a single bandwidth measurement says very little about actual bandwidth usage. A series of measurements can be more useful when determining averages or trends.
There are many ways to think about the flow of data in a network. The speed of a network is defined as the bit rate of the circuit, determined by the physical signal speed of the medium.
Bandwidth is how much of the physical circuit’s capacity can be used to transmit data and is determined by how much of the network capacity is available based on the connection. While a Gigabit Ethernet network connection would allow for 1 Gbps, the bandwidth available to a computer connected by a Fast Ethernet card would only be 100 Mbps.
Throughput is the rate of successful transmission, while bandwidth is a calculation of the amount of data that passes the network interface, regardless of whether the data results in a successful transmission. As such, throughput is always lower than bandwidth.
There are several reasons to measure bandwidth. Low usable bandwidth compared to the theoretical maximum bandwidth may be indicative of network problems, particularly if there are widely different usable bandwidths from different parts of a network that are designed to operate the same.
Additionally, measuring bandwidth is necessary to ensure that any paid connections are living up to their promise. Home users may run an online bandwidth test such as the DSLReports speed test to see just how much of that “up to 40 Mb/s” connection their internet service provider (ISP) charges them for they actually get to use. Corporate connections might be better served by measuring throughput between offices connected by a carrier-leased line connection.
In order to implement proper bandwidth management, or Quality of Service (QoS) controls, one must first understand what bandwidth is used. Once determined, a continuous measurement will ensure that all users get the necessary bandwidth.
Once bandwidth usage patterns are understood, and if specific users or applications are degrading network performance for others, tools can be used to limit the amount of bandwidth they are using.
Some types of connections have a maximum defined bandwidth. Actual bandwidth depends on many factors including environment, cabling, and usage, and is usually less than the theoretical maximum.
Wired bandwidth standards for connections
|Dialup Modem||56 kbps|
|T1 (Digital leased landline connection)||1.544 Mbps|
|E1 (Digital leased landline connection European)||2.048 Mbps|
|Asynchronous DSL||4 Mbps|
|T3 (Digital leased landline connection)||44.763 Mbps|
|VDSL 2||100 Mbps|
|Fast Ethernet||100 Mbps|
|OC3 (Ficer optic leased landline connection)||155 Mbps|
|OC 12 (Ficer optic leased landline connection)||622 Mbps|
|Gigabit Ethernet||1000 Mbps or 1 Gbps|
|VSDL 2 Vplus||300 Mbps|
|10 Gigabit Ethernet||10 Gbps|
|100 Gigabit Ethernet||100 Gbps|
Wireless network standard maximum download speeds
Wireless network connection speeds vary widely based on the conditions of the connection. The numbers below are the maximum bandwidth speeds according to the standard or specification.
|3G - HSPA||7.2 Mbps|
|3G - HSPA+||21 Mbps|
|3G - DC-HSPA+||42 Mbps|
|4G - LTE||100 Mbps|
|5G (proposed)||1 Gpbs (or higher)|
WiFi 802.11bf: New applications for wireless devices
The WiFi standard 802.11bf will not only be used for communication but also as a complete sensing paradigm. This will expand the possibilities of WiFi and e.g. detect which people or objects are moving within its range of motion.
The upcoming version can be used in industrial and commercial environments in manufacturing systems, corporate networks, and test and measurement equipment.
Bandwidth is most often purchased from telecommunications companies. Most consumer bandwidth is sold as “up to” meaning that the customer may get up to 40 MB/s, but not always have that speed while using the connection. Speeds may be higher or lower at different times of the day or under different circumstances. Corporate bandwidth is also typically purchased from telecommunications companies. However, many corporate agreements come with contractual performance measures that must be met, including a minimum usable bandwidth, minimum uptime, and other metrics.
Additionally, bandwidth metering may be used to charge for specific usage rather than a full connection. For example, a website owner may pay the website host only for the amount of bandwidth used by that specific website over a period of time, such as a monthly billing period.
Too little bandwidth
While modern protocols are pretty good about not losing any packets, limited bandwidth can still cause operations to be too long to complete, resulting in timeouts or other issues. These issues can cause application errors or database errors. When backing up or copying data over a network, too little bandwidth can cause backups to take too long, often running into other batch processes, or even main working hours.
In addition, users relying on a connection with too little bandwidth may notice long lag times between when they do something, like click a button, and the response to that action. In the case of waiting for information or other data to load, too little bandwidth can cause operations to take a long time, or even cause users to give up waiting.
For users attempting to make phone calls over a network, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), having too little bandwidth results in lower quality calls. Most VoIP systems reduce the fidelity of a call based on the available bandwidth. If there is not enough bandwidth, the call may sound “tinny” or “echo-y”. If the quality is bad enough, there may be actual gaps in the call where parts of the conversation are missed.
Video calls require even more bandwidth. Video calls made without the necessary bandwidth will not only result in bad sound quality, but also low quality or jittery video.
For internet users, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends a minimum bandwidth of 4 Mbps for adequate performance when streaming a video in HD quality. Many video players will work with less bandwidth by “buffering”, or downloading data ahead of when it is actually displayed. If the connection is too slow, users will either have to wait a long time before the video starts while the system buffers a lot of data, or the video may stop suddenly when the system runs out of buffered video to play.
Gamers are often frustrated by limited bandwidth as well. While playing against other players online, players with faster connections see what is happening quicker, and the data about their reactions is transmitted and received faster. The FCC recommends a minimum download speed of 4 Mbps for Online Multiplayer Gaming in HD.
| || |
0.5 Mbps to 1.0 Mbps
Phone Calls (VoIP)
Streaming Movies (Non-HD)
Streaming HD Quality Movies
Basic Video Conferencing
HD Video Conferencing
Internet Connected Game Console
Online Multiplayer HD Gaming
Table of FCC minimum required download speed
Too much bandwidth
There a few technical issues caused by too much bandwidth. Higher capacity bandwidth, however, typically costs more. Thus, too much bandwidth may not be cost effective.
Network design and infrastructure can create bandwidth issues as well. Latency measures the delays on a network that may be causing lower throughput or goodput. A low latency network has short delays, while a high latency network has longer delays. High latency prevents data from fully using the network’s capabilities, therefore decreasing the bandwidth.
Finding and remedying bandwidth issues helps improve network performance without costly upgrades.
Ping and traceroute
Tools such as Ping and traceroute can help troubleshoot basic issues.
Pinging a test server, for example, will return information on how quickly data can be sent and received, as well as average round trip times. High ping times indicate higher latency in the network.
The traceroute tool can help determine if there are too many individual network connections, or hops, along the connection path. In addition, traceroute returns the time taken by each hop. A longer time on a single hop may pinpoint the source of an issue.
TTCP measures the time it takes for data to travel from one network interface to another with a receiver on the other end. This eliminates the return trip from the calculation and may help pinpoint issues quickly. If the measured bandwidth is less than expected, further measurements can isolate the issue. Does a measurement to another interface on the same network work faster? If so, where is the difference between the two systems? By continually measuring bandwidth, administrators can target the bottlenecks in the network.
PRTG Network Monitor
With its data gathering and graphing interface, PRTG can also help troubleshoot bandwidth problems that are not related to design. For example, by measuring bandwidth usage over time, it may be determined that certain users or applications are sometimes using higher amounts of bandwidth and causing network congestion and slowing network responsiveness and internet speed for other users.
PRTG makes bandwidth monitoring easy
With PRTG, it is easy to track and check bandwidth usage in your network.
The bandwidth tool reads the traffic data from your router and displays
the results in three graphs. This way, you will quickly and easily be able to check
bandwidth usage and the amount of data transferred.
Bandwidth monitoring for professionals
Bandwidth is measured as the amount of data that can be transferred from one point to another within a network in a specific amount of time. Typically, bandwidth is expressed as a bitrate and measured in bits per second (bps). It refers to the transmission capacity of a connection and is an important factor when determining the quality and speed of a network.
In professional settings (businesses or large organizations), reduced bandwidth has severe consequences. Disruptions lead to idleness on the part of employees and customers and a corresponding loss of sales. Administrators must promptly expose and eliminate bandwidth hogs.
In this instance, our PRTG bandwidth monitoring tool will help you to monitor bandwidth, detect and measure heavy bandwidth overloads, quickly recognize potential disruptions – and get down to the root of the problem.
PRTG tells you for instance which user, service, or which device is using the most bandwidth.
This is a short video about bandwidth monitoring
Measuring bandwidth: 3 situations where PRTG comes in handy
With PRTG, you'll be able to promptly identify potential bandwidth overloads and quickly pinpoint the causes of crashes.
One single network component overloading can swiftly result in a significant loss of bandwidth.
large file transfers
Practically every company sends large files. These files consume a correspondingly high amount of bandwidth. But bottlenecks lurking in every network slow down transfers.
Your co-workers complain that the programs used internally are too slow? Your customers are unhappy because your website constantly seems bogged down? Then the problem probably lies with your bandwidth.
No IT can do without backups. In general, backups or database synchronizations require a great deal of bandwidth. Without the proper amount of bandwidth your network can be brought to its knees.
Obtain a comprehensive overview of your bandwidth usage
How do I monitor bandwidth?
PRTG reads the complete traffic data from your router and provides detailed statistics about which services and programs use your bandwidth, and where potential bottlenecks could be.
PRTG displays your bandwidth usage in graphs and toplists and shows net bandwidth consumption based on various parameters such as port numbers, IP addresses, protocols, etc., using either Packet Sniffing or flow sensors (NetFlow, sFlow, jFlow, and IPFIX).
Custom alerts notify you about bandwidth shortages via SMS, email, or push notifications. This ensures you can react proactively to all bandwidth issues and troubleshoot problems before they become severe.
Monitoring bandwidth usage is key to better network management.
What is a sensor?
In PRTG, “sensors” are the basic monitoring elements. One sensor usually monitors one measured value in your network, e.g. the traffic of a switch port, the CPU load of a server, the free space of a disk drive. On average you need about 5-10 sensors per device or one sensor per switch port.
PRTG simplifies your day
Our monitoring software works for you and promptly notifies you of potential issues.
It frees you to concentrate on your day-to-day tasks with peace of mind.
PRTG saves time
With PRTG, you get one central monitoring tool for your servers and entire network. Enjoy a quick overview of your whole infrastructure via our dashboard and app.
PRTG saves worry
Customizing PRTG is a breeze. Getting started or switching from another network monitoring tool is easy thanks to the auto-discovery and pre-configured device templates.
Customer example: Austria’s rail traffic relies on PRTG
"Due to business-critical applications, it is of the utmost importance that the ÖBB Infrastruktur AG data network constantly run flawlessly. To make this a reality, the management installed PRTG Network Monitor. PRTG is used for the bandwidth monitoring of the central routers and switches in the data network so administrators can determine the most important key parameters for utilization and availability. In total, the monitoring consists of several thousand sensors which query the relevant values in regular intervals."
Test bandwidth: Use PRTG to test with success!
PRTG BANDWIDTH MONITORING METHODS
by Heather Pacan, Systems Engineer
In this video, you’ll get a quick overview of the methods PRTG offers. Discover which method is best suited for your IT infrastructure.
You’d like to know if your ISP actually provides the bandwidth they’ve promised? Then just like many administrators, you probably perform frequent SLA checks. But how do you test bandwidth? Two challenges arise:
In order to test the maximum throughput, you must use your line to maximum capacity. This means there will be no more resources for other data during the network test. In other words, you'll paralyze your network.
For a 100% measurement, you’ll essentially need two computers which are directly located on the ends of the line whose bandwidth you would like to test. Otherwise you will also simultaneously test all network devices found on the “test track.”
For these reasons, you cannot measure the bandwidth directly over the course of the entire test, but must test the speed of the line by generating short load peaks, e.g. by downloading a small file (a few kB) every few minutes and measuring the time it takes for the download.
The solution: This is how to test with PRTG
Let the sensors run for a few hours with a 5-minute interval. The sensors have a channel which specify the bandwidths achieved during the file download in Kbps.
If, for example, you have a data line with a specified bandwidth of 4 Mbps, the network test of a 500 kB file should last 1,000 ms (1 second): 4 Megabits per second = .5 MB per second = 500 kB per second.
If your line is used by others during the network test, you will see jitter (unwanted fluctuations) on the curve, for your test did not always run with the full amount of available bandwidth. If there was no other traffic on the line, your curve should closely resemble a straight line. Bandwidth checks with PRTG will allow you to monitor your network and potential bottlenecks.
Attention! If you download a 500 kB file every 60 seconds, you'll generate a data volume of 720 MB per day!
Bandwidth monitor: What makes PRTG better than the rest?
Looking for the causes of slow applications or other problems without a monitoring tool is long and costly. PRTG provides a comprehensive network bandwidth monitor. You get around 20 sensors just for the monitoring of your bandwidth, and these sensors can be created automatically.
PRTG lets you keep an eye on your bandwidth over a longer period of time, and recognize the times when utilization has spiked. This allows you to proactively plan for more bandwidth at certain times - such as when your website is in high demand, when users tend to draw heavily upon applications, or when an update is about to take place (read more about update monitoring here).
Promptly diagnose capacity
Your bandwidth is slowly reaching its limit? With PRTG bandwidth monitor, you'll know immediately when maximum capacity has been reached. This lets you plan for new resources in a timely manner.
By discovering and removing bandwidth hogs, you'll increase the efficiency of your network. You'll also benefit from lasting savings. Most of the time, these measures alone quickly compensate for the costs of PRTG.
With PRTG as your bandwidth tester, you'll provide a stable bandwidth, boost the reliability of your network, and simply enjoy greater control of your IT infrastructure. As a consequence, you'll play a major role both in the improved performance of co-workers and in soaring customer satisfaction.
PRTG: The Swiss Army knife for sysadminsAdapt PRTG individually and dynamically to your needs relying on a strong API:
- HTTP API: Access monitoring data and manipulate monitoring objects using HTTP requests
- Custom Sensors: Create your own sensors for customized monitoring
- Custom Notifications: Create your own notifications to send alarms to external systems
- REST Custom Sensor: Monitor almost everything that provides XML or JSON
Practical tip: “Hey Mathias, what would you tell administrators who wish to monitor their bandwidth?”
“Instead of trying to measure bandwidth by way of an extra, simulated load, you should have a look around for actions which do that anyway – and then monitor them. For example, when you perform backups, you often put great strain on the bandwidth and can thus easily recognize shortages or bottlenecks.”
Mathias Hengl, PRTG developer at Paessler AG
Paessler teams up with many partners
Partnering with innovative IT vendors, Paessler unleashes synergies to create
new and additional benefits for joined customers.
|Network Monitoring Software - Version 126.96.36.1993 (August 9th, 2022)|
|Download for Windows and cloud-based version PRTG Hosted Monitor available|
|English, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Japanese, and Simplified Chinese|
|Up to 100 sensors for free (Price List)|
|Network devices, bandwidth, servers, applications, virtual environments, remote systems, IoT, and more|
Supported Vendors & Applications