Ask LH: How Can I Monitor My Internet Usage?

Ask LH: How Can I Monitor My Internet Usage?

Hi Lifehacker, I have an unlimited plan with my ISP. As such they don’t have any usage stats on their customer portal. Can you recommend a good monitoring solution? Thanks, Inquiring Mind

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Dear IM,

Monitoring your data usage is a good idea even with unlimited plans, as you might want evidence in the event of an ‘acceptable usage’ dispute. In addition, it will allow you to keep tabs on the data consumption of other household members and monitor against unauthorised downloads.

We’ve written about how to monitor your internet usage in the past — this article contains some helpful tips that are applicable to Mac, Windows and Linux PCs. The accompanying video provides step-by-step instructions on how to set things up.

Net Usage Item is also worth checking out — this adds a meter to your Chrome or Firefox browser which monitors your internet data usage. It works by fetching numbers from an XML feed and is compatible with most Australian internet service providers. Another option that we’ve heard good things about is ShaPlus Bandwidth Meter; a freeware solution that does exactly what it says on the tin. The meter displays the bandwidth usage in current session, day and month.

There are also plenty of data usage trackers available for portable devices. One of the best trackers for iOS is the aptly named Data Usage. This app helps keep you on top of all the data you’re using, alerts you as much or as little as you want, and provides in-depth statistics. It’s priced at $0.99. DataMan is another good iPhone option if you don’t want to pay anything and are just after the basics. You can download it here.

For Android, our go-to data usage tracker is Onavo Count. It provides home screen widgets that show how much data you’ve used for the month, displays live data usage by apps running, and your apps that use the most data.

If any of our readers have a better solution, let IM know in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • The massive flaw in all of the computer and device based usage meters is that they only measure the activity for that device. So, you’d have to go around and add up all of the devices you have, and then estimate the usage of the ones that don’t (the xbox, for example).

    I think the best way (and the way I do it!) is to check if your router will do this for you. I have a Netgear N600 (a solid workhorse of a router), which includes an internet usage meter which covers all of the devices attached to it. For people with metered connections, this is great, because it will send you an alert if you’re getting close to your quota. It’s also good because it monitors devices that aren’t always on your network, like a friend using your wifi.

    I think that is basic functionality built into most Netgear routers/modems, others might know if other companies do it.

  • One iOS app I’ve used a lot for this is Consume. No proactive alerts, but does show nice progress graphs for the billing periods and where you should currently be in the cycle. Not limited to data either. Can to mobile prepay and post pay (calls & data), landlines, broadband, some voip providers, various services like dropbox and Evernote. One loyalty programs and credit card reward schemes, public transport travel cards and package tracking with some delivery companies. It has quie an excellent list of Aussie companies that it can hook into.

  • Just also like to point out that Net Usage Item records LOCAL data transfer into the total so if you’re looking for just outgoing bandwith usage (downloads/uploads) any file copying, even just to USB drives etc is recorded and added to the total. I had this issue using this program previously.

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