One of the main problems that users of high speed Internet can come across is usage.

With all of that super-fast connectivity it makes sense that you’re going to download more data to your computer, enjoying streaming movies on YouTube or Hulu, Internet radio from stations around the globe or even online gaming.

What this means for people with unlimited bandwidth is pretty negligible; they might pay a higher premium for the privilege of as much of the Internet as they can get their hands on each month. However, if you have a more modest subscription with your Internet provider, their rules might be stricter.

The end result of this could be that your usage is squeezed, it will certainly take a few weeks to convince your ISP that you have changed your ways.

One way in which you can do this, however, is to install a usage meter on your computer. This is a tool that counts the amount of data that you have used so far, and allows you to set alerts to inform you when certain levels, or your maximum, have been reached.

Using a Usage Meter

Various high-speed Internet monitoring tools are available for free online, with different solutions for different platforms.

On Windows, the best choice is probably Networx, a useful tool with plenty of features. After downloading and installing Networx, you will find that the software is ready to run straightway with little configuration. However, if you want to setup an alert, right-click the Networx icon in the system tray and open Settings > Notifications, where you will be able to set up a condition.

For instance, if you wished to setup an alert to tell if you had used more than 1 GB in an hour, you would begin by using the Enable notifications tick box, and selecting received more in the Notification condition drop-down. You would then select 1 GB in the than section, 1 H in the within section and under Actions you might set a Visual and sound alert; this must be a WAV file. You can Test the alert to see how it might appear if invoked, and then click Apply to save and use the rule. Networx has many more tools than this, however, and if all you want is a visual graph then this is also available.

Meanwhile on Mac OS X you can either use the Network tab on the Activity Monitor, or take advantage of the excellent SurplusMeter which is very easy to use.

Do I Already Own a Usage Meter?

If you have a copy of McAfee VirusScan or Total Protection installed on your computer, then the chances are that you won’t need to spend time downloading and installing a third party usage meter as these suites include a built in tool that gives you a very good idea of your current Internet use.

Remember, however, that whether you use a usage meter on your main computer or not, such tools are not available for games consoles or Internet-connected media boxes. As such any metering that you do will be restricted to what is downloaded to your PC rather than your entire home network.

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