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What do you use to monitor network traffic on a home network?

Tags: Question
Sometimes our home network has huge loads, which I don't quite understand where originate. The server can of course be replicating, the Windows Update can be in play, and my eldest son can be playing a game using the net. The possibilities are endless, and I wish I had some kind of tool to visualize the network usage, the top talkers, the topmost used protocols etc..

Since we're talking about home networks here, I don't have the expensive managed switches, with the SPAN ports to tap all network traffic, neither do I have network cards supporting "promiscuous-mode" (as least as I know ...).

I was rather hoping for a small, black box, a Network Tap,  to plug between the broadband router and the wall. I imagine that this would be the best physical place to gather/sniff all  packets from all  workstations and servers. Does anyone know about such an appliance?

What other tools do you use to monitor network traffic with?


Gravatar Image1 - Robert,

Not sure what you are planning to use to analyze the packets captured by the black box you're looking for, but Wireshark (Ethereal) and tcpdump will allow you place the NIC on the host laptop/PC in promiscuous-mode.

Hubs are increasingly hard to find but you can usually pick one up cheaper than a network tap and for what you're describing - a cheap hub and Wireshark/tcpdump should do the trick.

Cheers -


Gravatar Image2 - John, Thanks for your input. I just want to be able to tell "who and what is using my bancwidth at the moment". I will look into Wireshark as I see many references to it on the net. Again. Thanks!

Gravatar Image3 - Wireshark is one of my favorite troubleshooting tools! I use it to solve the strangest things - its the best tool to discover what ACTUALLY is beeing communicated between two computers.

I don't think it will help you get any king of summary tho. Its raw data dump of whats on the wire. Allso it only picks up what it can - so you need a HUB (not a switch or something) between the router, the "others" and the compouter running Wireshark.

You'll find me on your companys OCS if you have questions ;)

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