What’s Using My Bandwidth? 5 Tips to Monitor Home Network Usage
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The kids are playing an online game. Your partner is streaming a movie and downloading something for work. You’re trying to compete with them for bandwidth… but it just isn’t happening.

A lot of things can drain your internet bandwidth capacity. Most of the time, it is the people on your network you know about. At other times, it is malware or a network intruder.

It can get so bad you cry out “What is using my bandwidth?!” It is a good question. Here’s how you can check and troubleshoot what (or who) is using your bandwidth across your home network.

1. Track Bandwidth Usage via Your Router

The best place to start figuring out what is consuming your bandwidth is your router. Your router processes all the incoming and outgoing internet traffic for your home.

In your router settings is a page containing each device currently attached to your network. You can check device IP addresses, MAC addresses, and their current connection status. Depending on your router, you may also have access to network information such as current download and upload speed, and the amount of data each device is using or has used.

For instance, the local network page on my router shows each device.

bt smarthub network analysis

Notice an entry you are unfamiliar with? You can delete it and remove it from your network. Make sure not to delete one of your own devices in the process! It isn’t a big deal if you do. You may need to re-enter your security credentials to log back into the network, a minor inconvenience for most devices.

2. Check Bandwidth Usage With Capsa

Your second option to check what is using your bandwidth is via a third-party program. In this case, you can use Capsa, a free network analysis app that captures every data packet engaging with your system.

  1. Select the network adapter for your system. For me, it is Ethernet. For you, it might be a Wi-Fi adapter. Choose Full Analysis, then hit Start to get things underway.
  2. In the Node Explorer (left-hand side), head to Protocol Explorer > [your adapter type] > IP. The tree of protocols expands, but you can stop here.
  3. In the analysis panel, select the Protocol The Protocol tab shows data packets for each protocol your system is using.
  4. In the analysis toolbar at the bottom of the screen, select MAC Endpoint. If you double-click your device IP address, it will open the detailed packet analysis screen for you.

capsa select local protocol

What is handy is that loads of common traffic have easily identifiable addresses. In other places, Capsa marks the traffic for you.

You can organize this information differently, too. In the analysis panel, hit the IP Endpoint tab, then browse to your device IP address. The analysis toolbar shows all of the incoming and outgoing connections for the local host, its geographic endpoint, and more. The Node 2 column can make for interesting reading!

capsa check ip endpoints

The free version has some limitations:

  • Only tracks ten private IP addresses
  • Only tracks one network adapter
  • Can only work on one project at a time

But for the most part, these limitations shouldn’t affect your ability to figure out what is stealing your bandwidth.

Download: Capsa for Windows (Free)

Note: Want to keep track of your entire network? Here’s how to turn a Raspberry Pi into a network monitoring tool Turn Your Raspberry Pi into a Network Monitoring Tool Turn Your Raspberry Pi into a Network Monitoring Tool Network monitoring software Nagios is quick to install and straightforward to configure –but a waste of a full PC. Raspberry Pi to the rescue. Read More .

3. Scan Your System for Malware

The other possibility is that your bandwidth issues aren’t coming from your local network. You may well have picked up some nasty malware that is stealing your bandwidth as it communicates with an external server or acts as a spam email bot. Malware can consume your malware in numerous ways, although it isn’t always “all-consuming.” Still, if you have malware, regardless of bandwidth consumption, you need to clean your system.

You should have an antivirus suite installed. Run a full system scan with whichever antivirus you use. Furthermore, I would strongly advise downloading Malwarebytes and running a full system scan. Quarantine and remove any nefarious items the full system scan brings to light. Then, check if your bandwidth increases. You might notice a sudden boost in speed!

Unsure where to start? Check out the MakeUseOf malware removal guide The Complete Malware Removal Guide The Complete Malware Removal Guide Malware is everywhere these days, and eradicating malware from your system is a lengthy process, requiring guidance. If you think your computer is infected, this is the guide you need. Read More !

4. Use Netstat to Uncover Network Issues

Another way to hone in on system processes hogging your bandwidth is through the Command Prompt and the netstat command. Netstat is short for “network statistics,” and you can use the command to evaluate all the network comings and goings on your system (but not your router).

In your Start menu search bar, type command, then right-click and select Run as Administrator. When the Command Prompt opens, input netstat -o and press Enter. What follows is a long list of every active network connection on your computer, which port they’re listening on, the external address, and which process the network connection belongs to.

command prompt netstat

Scan through the list and see if there are any unusual entries. You can copy and paste an address into your browser to search for it. The vast majority of entries are for servers or cloud servers of one kind or another because they’re the backbone of the internet.

For a quick analysis, head to urlscan.io and pop the address in there. You get a short report on who the server or address belongs to.

You can also note the PID (Process ID). Open your Task Manager, then the Services tab, and locate the equivalent process. If the PID has a lot of open network connections in the Command Prompt, and it is a service you don’t recognize, you can either stop the service and see if it clears your bandwidth issues, or complete an internet search to figure out what the process is and if it’s something your system requires.

windows 10 task manager services pid

5. Check Network Activity With Windows Resource Monitor

While you’re in the Task Manager, to get to another bandwidth troubleshooting tool, click on the Performance tab, and then click on the “Resource Monitor” button at the bottom.

The resource monitor is one of the most powerful tools available in your network How to Use the Windows Performance Monitor Like a Power User How to Use the Windows Performance Monitor Like a Power User If you feel like your PC is slow, the Windows Performance Monitor is one power user tool that can help you troubleshoot the cause. We show you how to use this data monitor effectively. Read More troubleshooting arsenal, in my opinion.

A glance at the Send and Receive columns shows me that Chrome and Malwarebytes currently account for most of my bandwidth. Seeing Chrome and Malwarebytes at the top of the list is fine because I trust both of these programs. If you see an unknown process or application at the top of the list, draining your bandwidth, it is time to start investigating.

What's Using My Bandwidth? 5 Tips to Monitor Home Network Usage windows 10 performance monitor network anaylsis

What’s Using Your Bandwidth?

It is a good question. I know in my house there can be up to ten devices competing for bandwidth at times. At those times, I’m glad I am in control of the router.

Not that I suggest cutting your family or friends bandwidth off. However, if you have a persistent bandwidth drain and you’re sure it isn’t a device within your control, one of the above tips on monitoring your home network use will uncover the perpetrator.

If you keep your smartphone by your side, why not turn it into a mobile network analysis hub with one of these Android apps 6 Great Android Networking Apps to Monitor, Ping, and More 6 Great Android Networking Apps to Monitor, Ping, and More Your Android phone can act a powerful network management device with these six apps for diagnosing, monitoring, and more. Read More ?

Explore more about: Bandwidth, Internet Connection Sharing, Network Issues, Troubleshooting, Wi-Fi.

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  1. dragonmouth
    November 12, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    Gavin,
    Any possibility for a similar article for Linux users>

  2. Guy Dessureault
    January 6, 2018 at 8:20 am

    Damn dude you’re awesome love you! But you know what the last time I did windows was in the year 2000. You know what they say? Once you go Mac yen never go back?

  3. Morris
    August 14, 2017 at 9:51 am

    For some reasen, Windows will not show more,
    than 4 hardrives at the same time,
    (something conveniently you overlooked)
    take one out the othere apears,
    please no patronising remarks there's
    nothing wrong with the harddrive.

  4. Jesús Prieto
    July 22, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Same problem: External hard drive not recognized by File Explorer but visible in Disk Manager.

    I solved the problem when I took ownership and assigned the right permissions (both things via File Explorer) and all the files were back! I had forgot that the drive was a NTFS file sistem and I nearly re-formatted it… Thank God I checked this option first!

  5. Zuan-Pierre
    May 14, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Thank you for making this post it was very useful it helped me out a lot

  6. Carla
    March 25, 2017 at 12:55 am

    Could you use this for IPhone issues? Often times everyone around me will have signal and I have none. Sometimes have to reboot to get signal.

  7. Old Duffer
    January 23, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    interesting FYI- I accidentally hosed 2-80 gig drives on the ribbon and 1-terrabyte via the SATA card. Restored both 80m gig XP Home Edition didn't find the SATA drive(even when it was the only one connected). I took an old version of W98 SE and it formatted the drive with Fat32 and installed 98 SE which worked fine. Hooked back up the 80 gigs and used XP to format terra with NTFS and tried to install XP . Couldn't find the drive. Seems to me that I had Windows 7 on the terra before but for some reason XP won't recognize the SATA drive,. ?Maybe SATA drivers needed??What needs to be on the SATA drive for XP to recognize it?

  8. Roy
    January 17, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    You said "that this process will erase the files on your external drive. Copy the files off the drive to back them up first, if necessary." How can I copy the files off my drive since the reason I'm reading your article and following your instructions is precisely because I cannot have my external disk recognized and able to work? I'm confused and helpless! Please reply somebody! I need to recover my documents! Thanks.

  9. Martin Treacy
    November 16, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Really really helpful - I had a 2TB external hard drive that may as well have been made out of brick as my laptop wouldn't recognize it. It just took one of the suggestions here - allocating a letter to the drive - to sort it out! Much gratitude.

  10. Chinanu Okoli
    October 15, 2016 at 12:25 am

    What happens if when you open Disk Management, the disk isn't there whatsoever?

  11. Adel
    May 8, 2016 at 1:38 am

    Thank you

  12. Mubasher
    April 11, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Great article! I was searching for this great information! As mostly my neighbors ask me my wifi password and I cannot easily say no to them. so I applied mac filter but still I wanted to know how much of my internet they are trying to use.

    Thank you very much for great article.

  13. Anonymous
    September 1, 2015 at 5:14 am

    Thanks Guys! these are very awesome tips and advice.

  14. Shivendu
    May 1, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    My chrome's PID is 5876 and it is at the top of the list of resource monitor. Is that normal?

    • yogesh
      April 11, 2016 at 10:27 am

      yes it is normal no problem enjoy...

  15. JAMES
    October 31, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    From what I have seen, MacIntosh and Linux (most implementations) have utilities that perform similar tasks. The idea is to view the traffic details and become familiar with what is normal so you may recognize that which is not normal. A simple web search should bring up operating system specific instructions on what to use and how to use it.

  16. aefre
    October 27, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    Tantalizing suggestions that don't apply to my Mac and wireless router. Any help for us Mac users?

    • Anonymous
      September 6, 2015 at 5:17 am

      Get Windows.

      • RBR
        December 24, 2015 at 4:06 am

        Durrr

  17. DavidB
    October 23, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    My Cisco menu did not have anything like your example. The Capsa did not make sense to me. Even trying to type in the run command "netstat-o" just resulted in a message that it was not recognized as a command.

    • Ryan Dube
      October 23, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      Hi David,

      As the article mentioned, each router will have a different menu setup, but you should be able to locate that particular monitoring display if you search as described in the article. Also, the command is: "netstat -o". You need a space before the "-o"

      -Ryan

  18. Ajarn D
    October 23, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Woh! This is some very useful information. Thank you very much.

  19. tinkicker
    October 22, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Clickety-clickety-click....there! Saved this to Evernote for future reference!

  20. Fred
    October 22, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Mac OS X equilateral, please

  21. Patrick
    October 22, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Yeah Ryan! Good response to that person(?). Bad manners are always a reflection on those who practice such. Great article!

  22. Walt
    October 22, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Ditto.
    I would like know if you have recommendations for Linux.
    Thanks for the good article.

  23. Paul V
    October 22, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Great article, exactly what I needed

  24. Marvin D
    October 22, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Any apps, both free and paid, for MAC users? All I see are Windows apps, unless they are all good for both Mac and Win. Great article, by the way, I've been wondering about this for so long. Thanks!

  25. raoul_leon@yahoo.com
    October 22, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    "Hone In On The Culprit With The Windows Resource Monitor" WTF!! Do you mean "home in"? I think you do. Flunk high school?

    • Ryan Dube
      October 22, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      College graduate - engineering. Which is probably why I prefer the hone-in usage. Reference here: http://grammarist.com/eggcorns/home-in-hone-in/

      BTW, I would accept the education of a high schooler over the manners of a 3-year old any day.

  26. Guy M
    October 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I just read the EULA on Capsa Freeware -

    Free Edition

    If the SOFTWARE PRODUCT is marked as a free edition for the final user (FREE), it (is) provided (to) you without charge.You may not use the SOFTWARE PRODUCT in your workplace or for commercial purpose.

    There is no mention on the Capsa Free page of time limits.

  27. amy
    October 22, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    For neighbours that steal bandwidth:
    http://www.ex-parrot.com/pete/upside-down-ternet.html

  28. Merlin
    October 22, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Good article.
    You should have mentioned though that for all of these actions, you need administrator rights.
    Now that's where the real problem lies when you are working on a company PC where you only have user rights.
    If there are issues with the drive itself of course, you'll need other tools to recover the partitions or data on the drive.

    I have used Capsa both in the free version and the full version.
    Of course there are limitations in the free version. Why would anyone want to buy the full version if everything was in the free version?
    It is a good program and can be helpfull in many cases.

    • Merlin
      October 22, 2013 at 10:57 am

      Sorry, I seem to have put two comments to twoo fdifferent articles together here.
      My brain must have had a short circuit. ;)
      The first part of my comment above should be ignored.

  29. Esaure
    October 21, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    I prefer to use Netlimiter, monitor is free but it ells what and where an executable is connecting to with its download and download speeds

  30. Ruben Hiciano
    October 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Free app? Did you even mind to check?

    • Ryan Dube
      October 21, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      Yes of course - there's an entire page devoted to the free version, which I installed and ran (as you can see in this article). http://www.colasoft.com/capsa-free/

      Worked great for me, although I understand there may be limitations that some people aren't willing to accept.

    • Ryan Dube
      October 22, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      Did you see Guy's comment?

  31. Amir M
    October 21, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    great article, i used this method at the beginning but then, i decided to add MAC filtering to the router, its a bit of added work every time friends or family asks for wifi connectivity but the problem with neighbors is solved.

  32. righteous indignation
    October 21, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Capsa is not free. $995 or $695 is for the two versions that are not crippled and limited to the point of being worthless.

    Also their stupid privacy statement says they require no personal information then go on to ask you for your personal information.

    Why is makeuseof shilling for pretend to be free software?

    • Ryan Dube
      October 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      I don't see any prices like that on their freeware page, which is the version I installed and tested (and am still using today). http://www.colasoft.com/products/freeware.php

      I'm interested in what surprise I have in store though - are they going to make the software stop working after 30 days? Are features going to turn off on me? Please do fill me in...because from what I can see it's pretty cool freeware, available for "non-commercial uses".

    • Hassle
      October 27, 2013 at 11:36 pm
  33. Ahmed K
    October 21, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Can capsa be used to track 3G bundle usage in MB ??