Web Browser Wednesday

Have you ever wanted to have more control over how your browser used it’s bandwidth? Some routers will let you do this for Quality of Service (QoS) reasons, but it’s also possible to achieve the same results using some free software. There are multiple reasons as to why you might want to do this, but the first ones that came to my mind are testing websites at different connection speeds or preventing one computer from bogging down the entire network. Or maybe you just want to show your kids what it was like back in the days of dial-up. ;)

Below we’ve got three different solutions for limiting bandwidth usage. One works specifically for Firefox, another for Internet Explorer, and the last one is a system-wide bandwidth throttling application. All of them are, you guessed it, free!

–Firefox Throttle (Homepage)–

This is an extension that is compatible with most versions of the Firefox browser (including the latest Firefox 3). Once installed you can limit the download speed, upload speed, or both. It comes with some preset values for the most common speeds, or you can manually enter any speed you desire.

What’s nice is that you can actually exclude specific sites or IP addresses from having any bandwidth restrictions applied to them. Perhaps the exact opposite of that would be more useful? Then you could select which sites to apply the limitations to, such as bandwidth-hungry download sites. Maybe that will be something we’ll see in the future.

Here’s a list of the features included with Firefox Throttle:

  • Limit download and upload rates for all open Firefox windows/tabs and downloads
  • Bursting mode (allow short rate “bursting” after inactivity)
  • Preset and custom limits
  • Exclude lists for IP addresses and domains that should not be throttled
  • Automatically excluded LAN IPs
  • Traffic stats (for current session and historic since last reset)
  • Status panel with current bandwidth utilization indicators (or traffic counters)
  • Quick throttling on/off toggle on status panel

firefox throttle.png

–IE Throttle (Homepage)–

This application is made by the same creators of the Firefox Throttle mentioned above, and actually has many of the same features. The main thing that it lacks over the Firefox Throttle is bandwidth monitoring, which is a nice feature for statistics nerds like myself. It still has website and IP address exclusion capabilities though:

  • Limit download and upload rates for all Tabs and Windows open by single Internet Explorer process
  • Bursting mode (allow short rate “bursting” after inactivity)
  • Preset and custom limits
  • Exclude lists for IP addresses and domains that should not be throttled
  • Automatically excluded LAN IPs

ie throttle.png

–Traffic Shaper XP (Homepage)–

There are only a handful of applications that work well if you’re looking to apply restrictions to something other than Firefox or Internet Explorer, and this is the only one that I could find which was also free. The downside is that it doesn’t let you limit the bandwidth of a specific application, but you can throttle the bandwidth of the entire system.

When creating a filter/rule you can specify which inbound or outbound IP addresses you want it applied to, or even which port number(s) it should affect. It then gives you a bunch of different monitoring tools you can use to see what’s going in and out of your computer.

traffic shaper.png
(Click to Enlarge)


These are three great solutions for traffic shaping and limiting bandwidth on networks, but I’d love to hear if you’ve stumbled across any awesome free tools that do the same sort of things. Shoot us a comment below with anything you find!