netstat live.pngYesterday word started getting around that come October 1st Comcast would be enforcing a 250GB bandwidth cap for all their users. This is obviously their way to get back at the whole BitTorrent rigmarole that started last year, and this way people are more apt to know what they consider to be “acceptable use.”

The new policy won’t go into affect until October 1st, and if you’re a heavy user you’ll likely be contacted by Comcast:

If a customer uses more than 250 GB and is one of the top users of our service, he or she may be contacted by Comcast to notify them of excessive use. At that time, we’ll tell them exactly how much data per month they had used. We know from experience the vast majority of customers we ask to curb usage do so voluntarily.

Hitting the 250GB limit would take a lot of Internet usage, but it’s definitely possible if you’re streaming videos all day long or are active on the BitTorrent network. They’ve also not said what will happen once you hit that limit (pay extra, get cutoff, etc…)

Scott, the individual who sent us the tip on the Comcast news, was wondering if there was a good free program to use for monitoring your bandwidth usage. After looking around a little bit I found that the AnalogX NetStat Live (for Windows) was a highly recommended program. With it you can track both the current month and last month’s bandwidth usage, set it to start with Windows, and it can be minimized to the System Tray.

If you’ve got a tool you use to monitor bandwidth usage let us know in the comments. We’re particularly looking for apps that keep track of monthly usage, and not just real-time data.

Get NetStat Live for Windows
Thanks Scott!

There Are 28 Comments

  1. That screenshot reminds me the good old days of Windows 98 :P

  2. I dont understand bandwith caps, if you can download things ad 5mb/s that 250 gig bandwith can go fast, i stream netflix movies all the time, and that will go very fast.

  3. I use Netlimiter2 Pro — gives real time and historical stats and also allows you to manage your bandwidth usage by app.

    They also offer Netlimiter2 Monitor that just gives you the stats, without the management aspects.

    Of course none of these things do any good if you have more than one computer connected to your router — then you need to gather stats from each machine. I use a Linux box as my router and gather total usage stats from iptables — in a kludgy way.

  4. I am pretty sure that Comcast will have to provide individuals with either a software program to monitor their internet usage or more likely a web interface. If they don’t, they will get sued and loose. Actually, this has no chance of being upheld (by market forces). I don’t think it would matter if they had a 100gig daily limit.

  5. Hughes enforces a fair access policy (FAP) for their two-way satellite service. That policy is defined as mb/24.hrs for upload and download. The threshold varies depending on the service to which you are subscribed. If exceeded, you are throttled to something less than dial-up speed for the next 24 hours. At one point I could access stats on their website but with a modem/service upgrade, could not, so I track my own.

    My current service package limits me to 350 mb per 24 hour period — except for 3am to 6am Easter, during which time usage is not counted. I schedule any significant downloads during that time.

    It is a pain … but it is also something that can be tracked and managed … whatever the threshold.

  6. 250GB doesn’t seem so bad – and as for BitTorrent, the speeds aren’t good enough anyway.

    I recommend NetMeter ([softpedia.com]). It has a neat interface, transparent effects and can import/export logs (if you ever reinstall Windows, it can help).

    I reviewed it some time back on my blog (click the link on my name), and I’m sure many of you have already heard it. :)

  7. I believe it’s “rigmarole” (“rigamarole” is also acceptable).

    ;-)

  8. For those of you with a [polarcloud.com] I strongly suggest looking into [polarcloud.com]

    It offers excellent control over many aspects of your router, giving you a chance to control many things previously unaccessable, and perhaps most significantly, it also offers you many modes of bandwidth monitoring – real time, 24 hour, weekly, and monthly. Ta da! Instant bandwidth monitoring for the whole house – not just an individual computer! (See [lifehacker.com]+friendly-super+router-with-tomato for a nice overview)

    …and if you find you’d like to try yet another firmware, you could also try something like [dd-wrt.com] [freewrt.org] or [openwrt.org] for example.

  9. I use NetMeter too, it’s an excellent little application with a very small footprint.

    I’m always on the lookout for an equally simple monitor for the speed of my internet connection, that will sit happily in my system tray and perhaps check the speed every few minutes, and log the results. Any suggestions?

  10. I can understand complaints and concerns from cable companies about bittorrent usage, simply because they’re stupid and broadcast 50+ channels 24/7 to every stinkin’ customer, regardless of who/how many people are watching it. If I’m watching some show, I don’t need 49 other shows being sent to me at the same time. Plus, that’s a LOT of wasted bandwidth.

    Companies who aren’t cable companies, however, really have no reason to get mad over bandwidth usage. If a wire is meant to transfer 12Mbps to a customer, let the customer use it! There’s no harm in using hardware that’s meant to be used. Furthermore, using the wire to transfer data — for which it was designed to be used — is not going to damage the wire and cost the company money to replace/repair it! What’s with all these stupid ISPs complaining about bandwidth? Once you have your hardware installed, USE IT! And for the cable companies, stop transferring programs that the user is not watching, then feed that bandwidth into your customers who want it for internet usage!

    Heh, anyway, there’s a nice FOSS program on SourceForge called FreeMeter. It’s not as pretty as AnalogX, and doesn’t have all that data right away for you to view, but it shows you what bandwidth you’re currently using, and has the option to keep a log based on day/week/month. You can then view it in the “Totals Log” and even export it to csv or html. It’s found here:
    [sourceforge.net]
    I keep it on top of all my windows in a little box in the corner to see what my network’s doing. It’s just there, making graphs, not bugging me, always conveniently there when I need it =D

  11. Jidery wrote:
    I dont understand bandwith caps, if you can download things ad 5mb/s that 250 gig bandwith can go fast, i stream netflix movies all the time, and that will go very fast.

    Even though you may be transferring files at 5Mbps that doesn’t mean the file you’re downloading is that large. You could actually download over 350 CD’s worth of data and still stay under the 250GB limit they’re enforcing. If you do a lot of Netflix streaming (meaning several videos a day) you could probably come close to the limit.

    Jeff wrote:
    I am pretty sure that Comcast will have to provide individuals with either a software program to monitor their internet usage or more likely a web interface. If they don’t, they will get sued and loose. Actually, this has no chance of being upheld (by market forces). I don’t think it would matter if they had a 100gig daily limit.

    I doubt they’ll provide a program… I’ve known several ISP’s who had bandwidth caps without providing software to monitor it.

    Lappy wrote:
    For those of you with a [polarcloud.com] I strongly suggest looking into [polarcloud.com]

    I do love the Tomato firmware. The real-time stats can be fun to watch.

    spelling nazi wrote:
    I believe it’s “rigmarole” (”rigamarole” is also acceptable).
    ;-)

    I looked up the word before using it, and that the spelling I used is what people were using. I do like your spelling better though, so I changed it. ;)

  12. Other than cable companies, Satellite companies (eg. Hughes) obviously have limited bandwidth to share among users and for the other companies, i.e. telco’s, if every user filled up every one of those wires there would be a bottleneck somewhere else — at some point they are all packets going through a limited pipe.

    What percentage of users would have to stream video at the same time before the entire internet would shut down ?

  13. I have to say that I think that 250GB is pretty fair all things considered. Comcast users should feel glad they are not Time Warner customers. In the bandwidth capped service that Time Warner is now testing in some markets, the highest plan you can get is a paltry 40GB. I don’t have Comcast or Time Warner.

    I consider myself a moderately heavy downloader. I probably download about 10 movies and 20 or so episodes of various TV shows a month. All through private torrent trackers so I always seed back to at least 1, most of the time more. I get about 300+ emails a day, watch many hours of online video, etc. I practically live on the internet. Even with all that I only use about 60GB a month (measured using ShaPlus Bandwidth Meter [shaplus.com] ).

  14. Welcome to our world :)

    (Australia has had limiting since broadband inception)

  15. Bandwidth limiting has been a part of some countries broadband policies for a long time…

  16. Bandwidth caps are a good thing, considering that they can throttle your connection as they see fit if you have a fair use contract. At least now you know how much bandwidth you’ll get.

    Check this out:
    [img244.imageshack.us]

    This app connects to the server of your ISP and downloads information about your bandwidth cap. You can also see on a day to day basis what you spent on upload and download. ISP Monitor is compatible with all major Belgian ISP’s, but it can also be set to just monitor what you upload and download on your computer’s internet connection (which of course doesn’t require any data from your ISP). This time, Belgium is WAY ahead of the ol’ US of A. :D

  17. I use BitMeter II ([codebox.no-ip.net]) i think its the best :-)

  18. The problem with NetStat Live is that monitoring is limited to the computer the program is installed on. This is not an accurate representation of your usage if you have multiple computers using the same connection.

    Luckily my current ISP doesn’t have a usage cap. However, they do have an online tool that shows your cable modem usage. I think ISPs with caps should offer a monitoring tool for users to track their usage.

    Lappy wrote:
    For those of you with a [polarcloud.com] I strongly suggest looking into [polarcloud.com]

    I couldn’t agree more! That’s exactly what I was going to recommend too.

  19. redfish wrote:
    The problem with NetStat Live is that monitoring is limited to the computer the program is installed on. This is not an accurate representation of your usage if you have multiple computers using the same connection.

    That’s a good point, but setting up some other solutions (such as those on a router) might be too complicated for some users. Most people probably have one computer that gets most of the usage, and so this would provide an easy way for them to monitor the one PC.

  20. Also, why doesn’t Comcast develop a metering tool themselves? They’re the ones that capped your bandwidth. Sheesh.

  21. Pieter wrote:
    Also, why doesn’t Comcast develop a metering tool themselves? They’re the ones that capped your bandwidth. Sheesh.

    They should, and they might. But I guess that would bring up the question of why other companies who cap usage don’t offer their own metering tool. They should all just let you login to your account online and see how much you’ve used.

  22. Ryan wrote:
    They should all just let you login to your account online and see how much you’ve used.

    At least! :o Every Belgian ISP I’m aware of offers this feature.

  23. Comcast called me today saying that I had exceeded the limit and this was “very serious”. They were not friendly and threatened to cut my internet off for a YEAR! I’m not sure how it happened but I have wireless internet (though encrypted). I think someone has been stealing bandwidth over the wireless signal. When I told Comcast that, they said it was not their problem and it was my responsibility. They said I should change my encryption settings, passwords etc. I asked if they provided a way to monitor my bandwidth usage (similar to how cell phone companies let you know how many minutes you’ve used). They said I would have to search google and just download tools to do that! Even if I did that, I wouldn’t know if someone was stealing my bandwidth. This is outrageous and I’m looking for a new internet service provider now. I don’t care if the speed is slower than cable, I will not tolerate a company that talks to me like I’m a criminal and threatens to suspend my service. One last thing, until the threatening call today, I had never even heard of the cap though Comcast claims they had advertisements on their website and on billing statements (perhaps only on the paper versions, which I don’t receive). Fuck comcast.

  24. DO NOT DOWNLOAD THE SUGGESTED MONITOR IT DOESNT EVEN WORK. AFter install it only crashes on usage. gg.

  25. I’m a new comcast user and got a call/message the other day with a ref. # to return their call. I did, and they informed me that I used 778 gigs my last month of service (which was my first) and had exceeded the 250gig limit. They said this was the only warning and if I exceeded it again I would be suspended for a year! I’m now using bandwidth monitor pro to monitor my usage. I’m finding that the majority of my usage is being gobbled up while uploading while I’m downloading. I made a small adjustment in my bit torrent client and think I should be good. On another note I use PeerGuardian 2 for all the other concerns that go along with p2p file sharing! Keep the cause alive. Back to verizon when I get dinged again!

  26. I have only come close to this limit once and I use bit torrents a lot. It was after my hard drive crashed and I was downloading everything to get it back and I downloaded like 10 full tv shows like 5 seasons of each and I came to 200 gigs. this is when i first learned of the limit because my internet went down for a while but it was not because I was downloading to much to fine out. it was just down. If some thing like this does happen you can always say that your network was unsecured.

  27. I killed that limit last month with 445 gb and the month before was 335gb and i really wasn’t on the computer that often. I only learned of this limit when I went to pay my bill online and it had a meter showing usage. Im going to download 24/7 until they call me and then cancel my service say hello to 10 tb this month. I love giganews.

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