Bandwidth monitoring with PRTG: an all-in-one solution
Why choose PRTG for bandwidth monitoring?
Troubleshoot "bandwidth hogs" faster
Paessler PRTG helps you troubleshoot bandwidth issues faster with a comprehensive network bandwidth monitor. You can choose from around 20 preconfigured sensors for bandwidth monitoring that are set up with just a few clicks. This way, you can more quickly find out which devices or applications are hogging your bandwidth.
Measure all traffic in your network
Most bandwidth analysis solutions only check traffic on a single device. PRTG measures all network traffic by monitoring data directly on your routers using protocols like SNMP, WMI, flow (NetFlow, jFlow, sFlow, IPFIX), or packet sniffing. Monitor all ingoing and outgoing traffic and see which applications or servers are using the most bandwidth.
Monitor over a longer period
Diagnose capacity & plan more efficiently
When your bandwidth is slowly reaching its limit, PRTG bandwidth monitor notifies you even before maximum capacity has been reached. This lets you plan for new resources in a timely manner.
Reduce costs & improve satisfaction
By removing bandwidth hogs, you'll increase the efficiency of your network. These savings quickly compensate for the cost of PRTG. You'll also boost the reliability of your network and enjoy greater control of your IT infrastructure. This way, you'll improve employee performance and boost customer satisfaction.
What is bandwidth monitoring?
Bandwidth monitoring is a method to measure the actual bandwidth that is available on a local system (LAN or WiFi). Bandwidth monitoring tools display real-time data such as download and upload speed and thus help prevent network strain.
Private individuals and professionals alike use bandwidth monitoring with PRTG to check for available bandwidth.
What bandwidth monitoring looks like in PRTG
With PRTG, it is easy to track and check bandwidth usage in your network. The bandwidth tool reads the traffic data directly from your routers and visualizes the results, for example, in so-called toplist graphs. This way, you will quickly and easily be able to check bandwidth usage and the amount of data transferred.
PRTG is compatible with all major vendors & manufacturers
Your bandwidth monitoring at a glance – even on the go
PRTG is set up in a matter of minutes and can be used on a wide variety of mobile devices.
Get a comprehensive overview of your bandwidth usage with PRTG
Monitoring bandwidth usage is key to better network management
Find the source of bottlenecks
PRTG reads the complete traffic data directly from your routers and provides detailed statistics about which services and applications use your bandwidth and where potential bottlenecks could be.
- Monitor users
- Monitor devices
- Monitor services
Configure custom alerts & notifications
Custom alerts notify you about bandwidth shortages. This ensures that you can react proactively to all bandwidth issues and troubleshoot problems before they become critical.
- SMS alerts
- Push notifications
- Email alerts (and more)
Bandwidth monitoring for professionals
In professional business settings, it has severe consequences if only limited bandwidth is available. Disruptions lead to idleness on the part of employees and customers – and a corresponding loss of sales and revenue. This is why administrators must be able to immediately determine and eliminate bandwidth hogs.
PRTG solves bandwidth issues by helping you to...
- Easily detect & measure heavy bandwidth overloads
- Quickly recognize potential disruptions
- Clearly see which user, service, or device is using the most bandwidth
3 use cases for PRTG bandwidth monitoring
One single network component that overloads can bring your network to its knees. PRTG quickly identifies potential bandwidth bottlenecks and pinpoints the root causes of crashes in likely scenarios.
Problems with large file transfers
Every company sends large files, which consumes a lot of bandwidth. PRTG helps you avoid the bottlencks lurking in your network that slow down or disrupt large file transfers and cost you dearly in time and money.
Slow applications and services
Your coworkers complain that internal programs are running slowly. Your customers complain that your website seems bogged down. PRTG solves this by showing you the cause of overloads and keeping your network at maximum efficiency.
PRTG makes your job easier
Our monitoring software frees you to focus on other tasks by promptly notifying you of potential issues.
PRTG gives you one central monitoring tool for your servers and entire network. Enjoy a quick overview of your whole infrastructure via our dashboard and app.
Getting started with PRTG is a breeze. Setting up or switching from another network monitoring tool is easy thanks to the auto-discovery and pre-configured device templates.
Case study: 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 runs flawlessly at all times. To make this a reality, the management installed PRTG Network Monitor. PRTG is used for monitoring the bandwidth of central routers and switches in the network so administrators can determine the most important key parameters for utilization and availability. In total, monitoring the ÖBB data network consists of several thousand PRTG sensors that query relevant metrics at regular intervals.
The challenge: How to test bandwidth
Would you like to know if your Internet service provider actually provides the bandwidth they've promised? Like many administrators, you probably perform many SLA checks – but how do you test your bandwidth?
Two primary challenges of testing bandwidth
1. Paralyzing your network
To test the maximum throughput, you must use your line to maximum capacity. This means that there will be no more resources for other data during the network test. In other words, you'll paralyze your network.
2. Isolating the test track
For a 100% measurement, you'll essentially need two computers which are directly located on the ends of the line whose bandwidth you want to test. Otherwise, you will simultaneously test all network devices found on the "test track".
Test connection speed
For these reasons, you cannot measure the bandwidth directly during the entire test, but must test the speed of the connection by generating short load peaks. You can do this, for example, by downloading a small file (a few KB) every few minutes and measuring the time it takes for the download to finish.
The solution: PRTG makes it easier to test bandwidth
Let the sensors run for a few hours with a 5-minute scanning interval. The sensors have a channel that specifies the bandwidth achieved during the file download in Kbps.
If you have a data line with a specified bandwidth of 4 Mbps, for example, the network test of downloading a 500 KB file should last 1 second: 4 Megabits per second = 0.5 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 because your test did not always run with the full amount of available bandwidth. If during the test 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 closely and detect potential bottlenecks before they can cause real harm.
If you download a 500 KB file every 60 seconds, you'll generate a data volume of
720 MB per day!
Video tutorial: PRTG bandwidth monitoring methods
Watch a quick overview of the bandwidth monitoring methods PRTG offers and discover which method is best suited for your IT infrastructure.
PRTG: The Swiss Army knife for sysadminsAdapt PRTG individually and dynamically to your needs and rely on a strong API:
- HTTP API: Access monitoring data and manipulate monitoring objects via HTTP requests
- Custom sensors: Create your own PRTG sensors for customized monitoring
- Custom notifications: Create your own notifications and send action triggers to external systems
- REST Custom sensor: Monitor almost everything that provides data in XML or JSON format
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
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FAQ: Bandwidth monitoring
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).
The term "bandwidth" refers to the transmission capacity of a connection and is an important factor when determining the quality and speed of a network or the internet connection.
There are several different ways to measure bandwidth. Some measurements are used to calculate the current data flow while others measure the maximum flow, the 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. It is typically measured in hertz (Hz).
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.
You usually measure bandwidth using software or firmware and a network interface. Common bandwidth measuring tools are, for example:
- Test TCP utility (TTCP). This tool measures throughput on an IP network between two hosts. One host is the receiver and the other host is the sender. Each side displays the number of bytes transmitted and the time that each packet needs to complete the one-way trip.
- Paessler PRTG. This software 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 over 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 then 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 the total available bandwidth, there are many ways to define measured bandwidth, depending on the need.
The highest transmission rate under ideal circumstances. The theoretical maximum transfer rate cannot be achieved in actual installations and is usually only used for comparison purposes, for example, to determine how well a connection is functioning compared to its theoretical maximum potential.
The highest reliable transmission rate. It is always lower than the theoretical maximum and sometimes considered the best usable bandwidth. The effective bandwidth is necessary for understanding the amount of traffic a connection can support.
The average rate of successful data transfer. It is useful for understanding the typical or usual speed of a connection. Throughput is the size of the transmitted data divided by the time it takes for the transmission to finish. 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.
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 transmitted data by the amount of time the transmission took.
Total transfer method
Counts all traffic over a set period of 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 usually used in a set period.
In real-world networks, bandwidth varies over time depending on usage and network connections. As a result, a single bandwidth measurement says very little about the 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. Corporate connections might be better served by measuring throughput between offices connected by a carrier-leased line connection.
To implement proper bandwidth management or 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 you understand bandwidth usage patterns and if specific users or applications degrade network performance for others, you can use tools to limit the amount of bandwidth they use.
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.
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 in not losing any packets, limited bandwidth can still cause some issues:
- operations take too long to complete, resulting in timeouts or process failures like application or database errors or backup malfunctions
- users can notice long lag times between when they do something, like clicking a button, and the response to that action
- for users attempting to make phone calls over a network, such as VoIP, having too little bandwidth results in low-quality calls
- 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 can work with less bandwidth by “buffering”, that is, downloading data ahead of when it is actually displayed.
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.
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 troubleshooting 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.
- A 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 point to 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.
Bandwidth monitoring software
The bandwidth monitoring tool PRTG can also help troubleshoot bandwidth problems that are not related to design. By measuring bandwidth usage over time, for example, you can detect if specific users or applications sometimes use higher amounts of bandwidth and cause network congestions.
In PRTG, “sensors” are the basic monitoring elements. One sensor usually monitors one measured value in your network, for example the traffic of a switch port, the CPU load of a server, or the free space on a disk drive.
On average, you need about 5-10 sensors per device or one sensor per switch port.
Discover our preconfigured PRTG bandwidth monitoring sensors
Here are some examples of sensors that can be used for bandwidth monitoring with PRTG:
The Packet Sniffer sensor monitors the headers of data packets that pass a local network using a built-in packet sniffer. The sensor can show the following traffic types:
- Chat (IRC, AIM)
- Mail, WWW
- Remote control (RDP, SSH, Telnet, VNC)
Note: The sensor only analyzes header traffic.
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