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Find out what apps and services use up your broadband allowance

What's eating my bandwidth?

Netbalancer

How to work out what apps, software and services are using up your web data allowance.

QUESTION My BT Internet account is restricted to 10GB per month. This is not generally a problem, since I tend to use less than half of that amount. However, something it now notching up the Megabytes and I don't know what it is.

I have a piece of software that measures in and out data transfer, but its statistics cannot distinguish between local network traffic and web traffic. Do you know of a piece of software (preferable freeware) what will identify which programs are hogging my internet connection?

HELPROOM ANSWER You can use the software utility NetBalancer (www.seriousbit.com/netbalancer/) to provide the information you need. There is a paid-for version, which costs $29.95, but also a free version which will provide all of the functionality you need.

Installing NetBalancer will interrupt any current online transfers, including downloads or streaming audio/video, so make sure you're not doing anything online before you start. You may also see a couple of warning messages about driver signatures – you can safely ignore these warnings and continue.

After installation, reboot your PC and then run the NetBalancer application. It will produce a window full of information about all the processes which are using your network, including the amount of bandwidth they consume.

Now go to the Edit menu and select Settings. In here, make sure you have selected "Show only online processes". This will restrict the information displayed to those applications using your internet connection.

You should now be able to see over time which application is using the most of your bandwidth.

If you wish, you can use NetBalancer to impose bandwidth restrictions on individual applications or types of application. You can also import general rules based on your 10GB allowance. For example, you could deliberately slow down all traffic when you get close to this limit.

If NetBalancer doesn't reveal the culprit, there's always the possibility that this extra bandwidth consumption isn't coming from your PC at all. Any other internet-connected devices will also consume bandwidth. These could be devices such as smartphones, tablets and AV equipment such as smart TVs or Blu-ray players. If you're using a wireless network, there's also the possibility that a neighbour is piggybacking on your Internet connection. Make sure your Wi-Fi security is enabled, and consider changing your network password.

See all How to articles. Get free tech support in the Helproom Forum.

Visit Windows 7 Advisor and Windows 8 Advisor for more Windows advice. Or email our Helproom Editor for bespoke advice.

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