4 Ways to Monitor Bandwidth Usage on Your Mac

Although you may be lucky enough to have an unlimited, uncapped internet connection for your Mac, many people still need to keep an eye on how much data they transfer. This could be down to a stingy ISP, or the fact that you’re using a mobile data network when travelling.

There are a number of handy utilities available for OS X that make this process remarkably easy, and can help you ensure that you remain within your allocated usage (and avoid any nasty charges)

Read on to find out more!

SurplusMeter

SurplusMeter

SurplusMeter

SurplusMeter, while not the most beautiful app featured today, is the only one designed with this one goal in mind – to help you monitor your broadband usage. I was surprised that no other software is available that specifically achieves this goal, but several others let you keep track of usage in a roundabout way.

After specifying which day of the month your internet contract starts, and your monthly download cap, SurplusMeter will start tracking what you use – across all network devices. Feedback is given both in a table, and through a progress bar that slowly fills up as you use more data.

It’s specific, clever, and completely free.

Price: Free
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.4.4 or later

iStat Menus

iStat Menus

iStat Menus

iStat Menus is a great application, designed by the talented folks at Bjango. Although it’s capable of monitoring almost every aspect of your system, it also handles bandwidth usage tracking very well.

Like many of the utilities shown here today, it only displays data transferred since you last turned on your Mac. This is OK in most cases, but not if you regularly turn on and off your computer.

One useful aspect of iStat is that data transfer is shown separately for each of your different network devices. The downside of this is that you can only see information for devices currently in use (i.e. when an ethernet cable isn’t connected, you won’t see how much data has been transferred through that medium).

Price: $16
Requirements: OS X 10.5, 10.6 or newer required.

Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor

A free solution for tracking bandwidth usage comes in the form of Activity Monitor. Bundled with OS X by default, this app has a small “Network” tab at the bottom which will show a few useful statistics about your connection.

Again, Activity Monitor only displays data since you last booted the machine. It shows a figure representing the data sent/received by all network devices, rather than a breakdown.

Price: Free
Requirements: Mac OS X

Net Monitor

Net Monitor

Net Monitor

Net Monitor comes in at $10, but has a wide range of features that help to justify the price. You can visualize your network traffic, log your network activity, create history reports and calculate traffic over time.

You can specify certain dates between which you’d like to view a report of data usage, which makes it very flexible to fit your personal broadband package. Similar to the free SurplusMeter, but with a few more advanced options for the technically inclined.

You can try a free demo to decide whether it’s worth forking out $10 for. If I was paying for this type of application, I’d be inclined to go with iStat on account of the extra functionality it brings in other areas.

Price: $10
Requirements: OS X 10.4 or Later

What Do You Use?

Is a capped broadband a connection a problem that you regularly have to struggle with? I’m lucky enough to have an unlimited data transfer allowance each month (and subsequently, you can often find me streaming live TV, listening to music on Spotify, and downloading system updates all at the same time…)

Are there any other applications you use for this purpose? Please feel free to share them in the comments below!