Mobile and broadband data caps have made people very conscientious about their data usage. Windows 10 includes a built-in network usage monitor which, unlike its predecessor, is actually quite a useful way to monitor bandwidth consumption. Read on as we show you how.
What does (and does the Windows 10 Network Usage Monitor not)?
In Windows 8, Microsoft introduced new ways to monitor network usage. However, the initial embodiment of the built-in feature was myopic limited to Windows Store apps (however, if you are using Skype from the Windows Store this data would be counted using Skype for Desktop (aka "normal" Skype, then it would not). Network usage and bandwidth monitoring in Windows 10 greatly improves the Windows 8 system by including data for all apps, not just applications served to Windows Store. This is an easy way to check which apps are using the most (or less) data in the last 30 days. As convenient and enhanced as the Windows 10 network usage applications, it's important to note: They only monitor the data usage of the computer you are accessing. If you just want to do a quick check to see what bandwidth has been used the most over the past 30 days, the built-in tools are quick, easy, and always on point.
How to check network usage in Windows 10
There are two ways to natively check network usage in Windows 10. However, we prefer one method over the other. Even so, we'll highlight both methods and explain why one offers clear benefits. The first method is a holdover from the Task Manager update in Windows 8. To view network usage through Task Manager, access Task Manager with a keyboard shortcut (CTRL + SHIFT + ESC), or enter " Task Manager "in the Start menu search box.
In Task Manager, select the "App History" tab. There you will find two columns on data consumption: "Network" and "Measurement network". (The measured network was a function introduced in Windows 8.1 that makes it easier to manage data usage for cut / chargeable data connections. More information can be found here.) While it's great that this information is available right in Task Manager, you'll notice something in our screenshot above. All visible apps are either Windows Store apps. Unfortunately, Task Manager still doesn't show any data usage for traditional old Windows applications. In fact, if we sort the apps by name in Task Manager and then compare the list with the other if you can check network usage, then in the Network Settings menu it says that Chrome is in the Network Usage list and not the List is displayed in Task Manager. Why they couldn't use the same data that they clearly have in both areas is a mystery. To get a better idea of how data is used on your computer, refer to the information in the Network Settings section. Navigate to Settings -> Network & Internet. In the left navigation area, select the "Data usage" item at the top.
Here you can see a general overview of the last 30 days. The circular graph shows you data that has been used for different connections (in the case of our screenshot we only used ethernet, on a laptop that you used on wired and Wi-Fi networks it shows a mix of sources). You can dig deeper and get a more detailed overview by clicking the small link under the diagram labeled "Usage Details".
This is where we find the missing data in apps outside of the Windows Store (which most of the apps use). Chrome, completely absent from the Task Manager list, appears at the top as expected.
Other Apps That You Can Try
With freeware and open source, administrators can often carry out extensive analyzes - free of charge. In this article, we show some of the best-known and most popular tools, network and system tools, from the freeware and open source categories.
Nirsoft's SmartSniff has the advantage that the tool does not have to be installed to analyze the network. It is enough to start the tool and start the analysis to get an overview (Figure 1). After starting the software, the scanning process can be started by clicking on the green triangle. Then the tool shows the connections of the computer in the network. The window shows the protocol, the local address, the remote address, the port , the name of the service, the size of the data packet and the speed. By clicking on the connection, further information is displayed in the lower area.
The NetworkTrafficeView tool , by the same developers, helps with the analysis with SmartSniff. The tool shows from local computers which packets are being sent from source to destination addresses.
Microsoft Message Analyzer
With the Microsoft Message Analyzer Microsoft also provides a free tool with which networks can be examined. The tool offers more information than SmartSniff, but is also much more complicated to use.
WireShark - Professional network analysis
WireShark is certainly one of the best-known tools when it comes to network analysis. The tool is in no way inferior to commercial analysis tools. The WireShark developers also provide a portable version. After the start, an initial analysis takes place by clicking on “Start recording of packets”.
WiFi Monitoring - Kismet, Wireless Network Watcher and WiFi Guard
Those who want to monitor WLANs in particular can, in addition to the tools already mentioned, also rely on special solutions with which wireless networks can be monitored in a targeted manner. A well-known example of this is Kismet. Wireless Network Watcher is provided by the same developers as SmartSniff and NetworkTrafficView and works in conjunction with the two programs. It is a valuable tool when analyzing networks, and at the same time it is easy to use. The free WiFi Guard tool searches WLANs for devices. In addition, foreign users of the WLAN can be discovered in this way. From WiFi Guard there is also a portable version that must be installed.
Check open ports
Analyzing networks also includes checking open ports on computers. There are standard tools in Windows, but also two free tools that help with the analysis. The command "netstat -an" shows the open ports in the Windows command line. More detailed information appears with "netstat -banvo". The routing table of the computer is displayed with "netstat -r", statistics on TCP / IP can be displayed with "netstat -s". With TCPView, Microsoft supplies a tool with a graphical user interface. Open ports can also be read out without installation, and in real time. The software developer NirSoft provides a similar free tool called CurrPorts . Like TCPView, CurrPorts does not need to be installed.
Network analysis with Nmap
Free tools like Nmap help find network devices and open ports on the network. The advantage of Nmap is that ready-made monitoring scripts are already integrated in the installation files. With Zenmap , administrators also get a graphical user interface for the tool. Various free scripts are also made available on the developer side. Nmap is available for Windows, Linux, macOS X, but also for other operating systems. FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBESD as well as SunSolaris, Amiga, HP-UX and IBM AIX can also be used to examine the network for security gaps or unauthorized data traffic.