How to monitor real-time internet bandwidth?

In the emerging digital era of today, the internet is the first and the most crucial tool that helps any business to become successful in the competitive market. However, lack of proper internet speed owing to network outages or slow response times curb the business productivity resulting in many missed opportunities. Here comes the need to monitor real-time internet bandwidth.

Monitoring real-time internet bandwidth allows easy tracking of the network activity, website availability and most importantly it provides a clear picture of the bandwidth usage. In huge business organizations, a network traffic monitoring tool helps to track several performance issues. A specific computer consuming huge bandwidth might be an indication of a worm or a virus. Similarly, monitoring the internet speed by analysing Wi-Fi speed and its connected clients helps to identify the potential abusers.

Network bandwidth monitor facilitates easy pre-planning of the bandwidth capacity that a network requires. To quote an example, when a network is started, it requires only a few hundred devices and a hypothetical 100 Mbps of bandwidth initially. As the network grows, usage of a network bandwidth monitor helps to determine that 100 Mbps of bandwidth gets exhausted at peak periods and must be upgraded. A real-time bandwidth monitor also helps to track if the Internet Service Provider (ISP) is truly providing the agreed bandwidth or if there is a breach on the ISP’s Service Level Agreement (SLA).

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Let us now move on to the processes involved in monitoring real-time internet bandwidth:

The process of monitoring real-time internet bandwidth includes several types of sensors that provide a variety of monitoring options. The sensor tracks the availability and uptime of the servers and other devices by running regular PING tests.

An SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) sensor monitors the network bandwidth/traffic passing in and out of a device through one port. Any type of open-source bandwidth monitor uses a number of SNMP sensors to send small data packets to devices like routers, switches and servers for the traffic counters of each port. Such queries prompt reply packets from such devices. The usage of SNMP sensor for monitoring real-time internet bandwidth uses least CPU and network load

A WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) sensor allows the tracking of data and current system status of many Windows configuration parameters where access is usually through a local or remote internet connection. A number of SNMP and WMI sensors are used in monitoring real-time internet bandwidth where these sensors permit measuring several metrics such as free space on disks, CPU and memory load, bandwidth usage, etc.

A packet sniffer is a sensor that allows the measuring of only header traffic. A Netflow sensor is used to measure the traffic flow and volume. It also determines the source of the incoming traffic, the location to where the traffic is routed and the volume being generated. Packet Sniffer and Netflow sensors allow monitoring and analysing bandwidth consumption caused due to a faulty protocol or IP address.

  • Many special sensors are also used for monitoring virtual servers and to track VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) connections. VoIP connections always have issues triggered by packet loss. A single delayed packet can cause serious delays and transmission issues. Such variations are called latency jitter. Monitoring real-time internet bandwidth helps to track and resolve such deviations and thus enabling a smooth transmission process.

  • A Ping jitter Sensor allows tracking of jitter for a series of ping signals. Ping is a command-line utility that is present on most operating systems that has network connectivity. Monitoring real-time internet bandwidth using a ping sensor allows tracking the availability of all network devices.

Tools that are used to monitor real-time internet bandwidth

  1. SolarWinds Real-Time Monitor: SolarWinds is a real-time bandwidth monitor that is used to track the bandwidth usage of the interfaces of several devices in real-time. It only requires the entry of IP address and the right SNMP credentials. Select the interfaces that require to be monitored. A graph indicating the bandwidth usage in real-time is generated. This tool is very effective for fixing the performance issues and for setting bandwidth thresholds.
  2. SolarWinds Netflow Traffic Analyser: The Netflow Traffic Analyser (NTA) joins with the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor and provides granular level details of the bandwidth usage and traffic in a network. It also provides details of the bandwidth consumed by an IP address, application or protocol and is extremely useful for troubleshooting purposes.
  3. PRTG Network Monitor: PRTG Network Monitor provides an all-in-one monitoring solution that incorporates a lot of features that includes performance monitoring, server and application level monitoring, virtual and bandwidth monitoring. It is one of the best bandwidth monitors available that provides exhaustive details of bandwidth usage and network traffic.
  4. Cacti: Cacti is an open-source bandwidth monitor that tracks the network bandwidth usage on an interface. It works by joining devices mostly through SNMP sensors and displaying the pooled data in graphs through a web interface.
  5. ManageEngine NetFlow Analyser: ManageEngine is a network traffic monitoring tool that is used to track the flow packets and is a great option for determining the bottlenecks. Bandwidth patterns per interface are analysed and a specific protocol or IP address or an application that is the root cause of any performance issue is easily drilled down.
  6. Call-to-action: High-speed internet is the requirement of the day to keep the users focused and more productive. So, monitoring the bandwidth usage is a mandate for any network administrator to ensure that the best possible performance comes out of the work.

Even though monitoring the bandwidth is crucial, the loading speed of the website is the determining factor that makes any visitor stay and positively impact on the conversions. Internet bandwidth is something where a web page provider has lesser control and he should take measures to optimize the page loading capabilities, irrespective of the bandwidth.

Apachebooster, a cPanel featured plugin which has the inherent features of both Nginx and Varnish, is one of the best tools to enhance the speed and responsiveness of any website. It is the only plugin which includes the https caching feature and also supports both static and dynamic caching. It is definitely a must-have plugin which is well-maintained, keeps upgrading consistently, extremely user-friendly, improves caching and provides an incredible performance boost to the website.

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