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Easy way to monitor bandwidth usage of network users

Posted on 2015-01-05
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Looking for the simplest way to monitor bandwidth usage of network users on a 30 user (primarily Windows) network.  Users keep complaining of slow internet, but every time I test it is very fast, so I would like to see if certain users/machines or servers are creating problems.
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Question by:fuzztone65
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 40532165
I'd start with monitoring the overall bandwidth used.  Then you can start narrowing down.

I use MRTG with SNMP enabled on my router to create a graph of the throughput.  I can quickly check the condition of things to see what the throughput has been like.  It updates every 5 minutes (I have a script kicking it off every 5 minutes) so it's not quite real time, but basic logging can tell you when things have been saturated.

Otherwise, I don't think there's a free way for seeing this.  if memory serves, a product like Solar Winds can tell you who the top users are.  But your router MUST support SNMP to get any real data.
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by:Don S.
ID: 40532166
You will need to look at your Internet firewall device.  that is the only thing that actually know who is doing what.  Depending on what you have, you may be able to see on the device's console page, or you may be able to setup an  monitor on an other computer to query the firewall and keep track of what it sees.  Solarwinds and Paessler are two sources to these types of external monitoring software.
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by:rharland2009
ID: 40532176
With some qualifying information, it may be easier to provide you with appropriate recommendations.

1. What is your budget, if any?
2. What is the firewall/router/gateway at your location? Do you have access to this device via CLI or GUI?
3. What switching hardware connects your LAN?
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by:fuzztone65
ID: 40532181
I have a Sonicwall TZ215.  I don't mind paying for software, either, so maybe I'll try Solarwinds again.  I've checked the Sonicwall real-time monitoring, but what I really want is a breakdown by IP or machine name.  I've also tried the new Spiceworks Network Monitor, but that's mainly for servers, switches.
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by:fuzztone65
ID: 40532195
Switching hardware is a Cisco SG 200-50 (50-port Gigabit Smart Switch)
Router/Firewall: Sonicwall TZ215
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by:fuzztone65
ID: 40532199
Budget: Unknown (whatever I can convince the owners they need)
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by:Qlemo
ID: 40532206
I suppose we are all aware that SNMP is only able to provide interface-based stats, no pet-user or the like. You'll get overall bandwidth consumption that way. For more detailed monitoring, traffic interception is required - either by a proxy kind-of software, or Netflow or similar on the router.
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by:Don S.
ID: 40532230
Sonicwall will collect to usage by IP address and will report this via netflow to an external monitor solution if you want to go that way.  Otherwise Dell will sell it's reporting piece for the TZ.  You can also setup the Sonicwall to authenticate users via SSO agent so that it can collect actual user info instead of just the IP based info.
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rharland2009 earned 500 total points
ID: 40532244
the TZ215 does export Netflow, so you could always spin up a trial of Solarwinds' Network Traffic Analyzer and see if the results are what you're looking for. In addition, although your options are limited on the switch side, you could poll your Cisco via SNMP with the Spiceworks product and see some port utilization, errors, and things.
You've said that it's always fast when you test - are you and the user population having problems all connected via the same switch when this is happening?
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by:fuzztone65
ID: 40532323
I'm installing the Solarwinds trial as we speak.

And yes, the users (and myself) are connected via the same switch when this happens.
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by:rharland2009
ID: 40532336
Okay, cool. Please pass on your results!
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by:fuzztone65
ID: 40540856
Still working with Solarwinds Network Traffic Analyzer.  Good results so far.  But pricey!
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by:rharland2009
ID: 40541214
It does cost, that's true. If it's something you need to sell to your business - and it's the tool you want - then I would pitch it as a multi-use tool. It can help identify top talkers/apps/protocols for ANY reason over time (not just to identify this particular issue). The capex is probably a bit steep for small shops, no doubt - but the annual re-up for support and software updates has been pretty reasonable historically. There are some open source/free things out there as well, but if you're wearing a lot of hats and your resource time is limited, then it's a good choice for 24/7 visibility. Just my 2c.
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by:Michael Rojek
ID: 40603522
Fire up the free trial of NetCrunch 8 and you'll get all the insight you need, and much more. It's all-in-one, so your network monitoring, server and app monitoring, and NetFlow functionality are all included in one package. You can also create some pretty displays for your higher-ups to be able to view real-time network status, while limiting them from actually changing anything, to convince them to budget it for you.
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