HelpSystems Blog

Bandwidth Monitoring 101

Bandwidth monitoring is a common challenge for network professionals. You want to see which devices, workstations, or servers on your LAN are using the most bandwidth. How much bandwidth has a certain IP used in the last day or month?

If you struggle to identify the source of bandwidth hogs and regularly deal with users consuming too much bandwidth, you’re not alone. In a live webinar I hosted last week, most attendees said they’ve experienced the very same issues. What’s more, most of them do not have any tools in place to analyze bandwidth usage.

For an intro to bandwidth monitoring and how the right tool can help, watch my full webinar (it’s only 32 minutes). If you want the quick version, keep reading.

What is bandwidth monitoring?

Bandwidth monitoring is a way for IT professionals to determine actual bandwidth availability on your systems. It helps you understand usage, traffic flow, bandwidth hogs, and network strains across your IT environment. Beyond best practices network monitoring, bandwidth monitoring gives you the means to identify hosts, talkers, and listeners, as well as get a sense of how much bandwidth and what type/protocols are being consumed.  

In a work environment, people use their computers for a lot of things other than work. When you’re able to keep an eye on anything that could affect your bandwidth, from internet browsing to downloading, uploading, and streaming, you can better ensure network availability.  

In my webinar I focused on monitoring bandwidth with NetFlow and other common flows protocols, but other protocols like SNMP and WMI can also be used to help you monitor bandwidth.  

What are flows protocols?  

A flow is a measure of data transferred between two devices over a period, sent in a packet form.  

You use a flows collector or software tool to read flows and identify their characteristics. Some of the information you can gain from flows include the source and destination IP address of traffic, service type, or logical interface.

Three common flavors of Flows protocol include:

  • NetFlow (Cisco)
  • Sflow (HP and NETGEAR)
  • jFlow (Juniper)

How can bandwidth monitoring tools help you?

Bandwidth monitoring tools give you visibility to understand where bandwidth issues originate. Without any kind of tool, it’s difficult to understand what’s happening on your network.  

With a network bandwidth monitor, you can quickly capture important metrics that will help you pinpoint issues, find congestion, and detect eminent issues on devices—and possibly even help you prevent downtime situations or poor network performance.  

Here are a more ways in which bandwidth monitoring helps IT teams:

  • Shows you information about DDoS attacks. By monitoring inbound/outbound traffic on devices, you can see the traffic that’s hitting them and identify who’s trying to get in (or out) of your network—and you can respond immediately.  
  • Help you spot unusual traffic spikes. Bandwidth monitoring tools show you unusual traffic spikes in a single glance. You can easily dig deeper into any abnormal activity to find out what’s going on and resolve any issues you find.
  • Provides forensic information and history for compliance purposes. If you’re being audited, you want to have historic information available, especially if you’re working in the legal or financial industries.
  • Gives you overall data regarding network use. Flows-exporting devices can tell you the source, destination, protocol, and volume of traffic – giving you a more complete picture of network performance.

What should I look for in a tool?

If you’re constantly wondering why the internet is slow or access to specific servers or applications is slow, a bandwidth monitoring tool can capture and monitor that information. Make sure you find one that:

  • Supports common flows protocols
  • Has minimal impact on server load and memory
  • Provides helpful charts and visuals
  • Shows both real-time and historic bandwidth usage data
  • Gives you integrated mapping, monitoring, and bandwidth analysis abilities
  • Offers expert technical support to help you maximize your use of the tool


Learn More About Bandwidth Monitoring

We record all our live presentations, so you don’t have to miss out. In this 32-minute video, find out how to analyze traffic flow with bandwidth monitoring.