Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Two Tried And True Tools For Mac Users To Visualize And Monitor Network Traffic

NetMonitor and SidekickAny Mac user with a home or office network needs a handful of network monitoring tools.

The free iStumbler app, for example, helps you to find network devices.

For small office users I often recommend the combo of Net Monitor and Net Monitor Sidekick. With the right equipment on your network these two apps can monitor network activity, give you history reports, calculate traffic and bandwidth requirements over time, and monitor network IP and ports.

Think of Net Monitor as a dashboard view of your network’s traffic, including a graph form of logged traffic, and a traffic speedometer. It calculates traffic between dates and generates HTML traffic reports with a couple of clicks.

Net Monitor Traffic Log

Net Monitor comes with PPP features, too, including alternative connection panel, and an option to control and display a PPP connection from the Dock or the Mac’s Menubar.

Net Monitor Sidekick is the app that monitors the monitors and gives you quick access to network devices, including network speed, and different types of traffic by device, or port. It does support IPv6 but gateway traffic is IPv4 only.

There’s also an option to identify IP Geo Location but requires an external database. Regardless, it’s a good tool to monitor remote Macs.

Net Monitor Sidekick

These are definitely not the only tools you’d use on a Mac network, whether home or office, but both do a good job of traffic who’s using all the bandwidth and when. Pricing is nominal for single standalone Macs but there’s an economical Five User, Ten User, and Twenty User license.

What good are network monitor tools and why do you need them? Your home or office network connection costs money, both from the cost of connection and bandwidth, as well as user productivity.

Being able to view the network and individual user’s traffic over time gives you a much clearer picture of how much bandwidth is needed, as well as what users are doing while they’re connected.

It’s a little bit of Big Brother, but useful nonetheless.