Often, it is important to know how much data the devices in your network are using, especially if your Internet service provider imposes caps, limits or penalties. Knowing the per-device usage history can be crucial in identifying traffic drain culprits and staying within your traffic allowances and budget.
Unfortunately, even in a common home network it can be difficult to get a comprehensive picture of your data usage, as it often consists of vastly different devices (computers, phones, TVs, gaming consoles, set-top streaming boxes, home appliances, etc), while the router firmware offers only very limited, if any, tools for traffic monitoring.
Monitoring your data with the router
Your router should have the most accurate information about the Internet data usage. Since all devices in your network are connected to the Internet through the router, it is the single point where all data transfers can be monitored and logged.
However, most home routers offer a very limited set of data-monitoring features, or none at all. They also usually have no history or logs for the user to see how much data their devices consumed in the past day, week or month. Some advanced routers have the monitoring and logging functionality, but they rarely offer any per-device data usage history.
To improve the situation, the users have to utilise third-party router firmware, which may require above-average knowledge and experience.
Monitoring your data on the individual devices in your network
If your router doesn't offer any user-friendly tools for capturing and logging your data usage, you can instead do this on each individual device by using a monitoring application like NetWorx or NetMaster, which offers a user-friendly interface together with extensive and flexible logs, reports, usage history and statistics.
However, this option also has limitations: you can only monitor data on those devices where such application can be installed. For example, if you have a Windows PC, Mac laptop, Android phone, iPad, smart TV and some home appliance connected to the Internet, they will all be running different operating systems, which means no one universal app can be installed on all of them.
Using NetWorx for data monitoring and logging
NetWorx can only monitor traffic on the computer where it is installed. If you want to monitor traffic on multiple computers, you basically have two options:
- Install NetWorx on every computer in your network. This can only be done if all your computers are running Windows or macOS (note: the macOS version of NetWorx has fewer features compared to the Windows version).
- If your router supports so-called SNMP or UPnP protocol, you can monitor all traffic via your router. This however will not give you a per-device usage breakdown and the monitoring computer must be continuously on to poll the router and collect usage data. See the Router Monitoring page for more details.
Using NetMaster for data monitoring and logging
Similarly, NetMaster can only monitor traffic on the computers where it is installed. However, unlike NetWorx, NetMaster is only available for Windows and consists of two components: the system service that does all the monitoring work and must be installed on every computer you wish to monitor, and the management console that enables you to interact with the service and must be installed on at least one computer.
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