Have you ever wondered how much data you’ve sent or received from your computer? Maybe you have to track how much data comes in and out of your network for whatever reason. Fortunately there’s a few Mac applications out there that can help you do this quite easily.

I personally put some of these monitoring applications on my servers so I can see how much bandwidth they use, but they work on most any computer.

A few of the applications that I use are vnstat, iStat menus, Surplus Meter and Activity Monitor.

Activity Monitor comes with every OS X Macintosh computer so it’s probably the first one you’d want to try out. You can find it in your Utilities folder. While it shows a lot of information about your computer in general it does have a network specific section. It has a nice graph that shows current incoming traffic and it displays how much data you sent and received. The downside to this is that when you reboot your computer all the statistics are reset.

I’ll only briefly cover vnstat because it’s more of an advanced technique. It’s a small process that runs in the background, there is no pretty user interface out of the box. It does keep a database of your hourly, daily, monthly stats though and because it uses a database the statistics aren’t lost when you reboot the machine. Another upside is that it’s not as bloated as any of the other applications and doesn’t use as much resources. You can learn more about it on this website if you’re interested. I tend to use this option on my servers over the other applications.

iStat menus is probably one of my favorite bandwidth monitors for OS X. It looks great and does exactly what I want it to do (and then some). iStat menus is a little application that sits in your menubar and not only monitors your bandwidth usage and current speeds, it also monitors other aspects of your system like RAM, hard disk usage, temperatures, fans and your CPU loads. Fortunately you can choose which statistics to show, and aren’t required to show them all which I like. I generally would stick to using this application on a workstation machine and not on a server. It is a free application and it can be downloaded from iSlayer.

The last application I want to go over is called Surplus Meter. This application was specifically built for people who have monthly bandwidth limits. I think it’s pretty rare around here to find any ISPs that have limits but they’re definitely are some out there. This application mostly focuses on how much data you’ve downloaded. You tell the application which day of the month your cycle starts on and how much bandwidth you’re allotted each month.

It’ll display how far along you are in the billing cycle, how many megabytes you’ve downloaded and uploaded. It will also calculate about how much bandwidth you should use per day so that you do not go over, an average of how much you are using per day and how much bandwidth you have left over.

Surplus Meter is great for watching your bandwidth to make sure you don’t go over but if you’re just looking for something to monitor your bandwidth in general I would go with one of the other applications. You can grab a copy of this also free software from this website.

Conclusion – There are many different way to monitor your bandwidth, I’ve only outlined a few of the possible way you can go about doing this. In general you should use command line utilities and things that run the background on servers but for workstation machines graphical tools are great. I really recommend the iStat menus, it looks great and can monitor much more then just your network stats.


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