Broadband packages often come with monthly download limits, and exceeding them can mean additional charges or a drop in connection speed. Mobile broadband deals are particularly harsh, with charges resembling fines rather than fees. It’s worryingly easy to go over these limits, especially if you’re accessing mobile broadband from a laptop rather than a smartphone. The networks won’t bother to tell you when you’ve passed the threshold, but there’s a free utility called tbbMeter that can.
1) Download tbbMeter from www.thinkbroadband.com/tbbmeter.html. Choose the version with or without isposure; either is fine. Double-click the download and follow the onscreen instructions. Once installed, you’ll see a bandwidth monitor window. Click Stats to see a summary of bandwidth used in the last day, week and month, This will run when you start Windows. To see the monitor again, click the icon in the System Tray.
2) By default, tbbMeter will monitor all connections to the internet. However, if you’re using mobile broadband while you’re out and WiFi at home or work, you’ll only want to monitor the mobile use. Click Menu, Network Connections… and, in the drop-down list, select ‘Leave me in full control of selection’. Untick all the options apart from the one for the connection in which you’re interested. Some of the listed options may be unfamiliar, but those relating to internet connections will have `IP:’ and some numbers (the IP address) next to them. Click OK when you’re done.
3) Click Menu, Statistics/Alarms, Define Alarms. Select your broadband package if it’s listed, or pick Monthly or Daily. Tick the box marked Enabled to activate the alarm. Adjust the Start Time if necessary; monthly allowances will start on the first of the month or the bill date, so check with your provider. Also check whether your allowance applies to downloads or both downloads and uploads, and adjust the ‘Type;’ setting accordingly. Adjust ‘Units;’ to MB or GB as necessary and enter a figure a little below your capacity allowance – this gives you some advance notice when you’re about to run out. Select an Alert Sound File from the drop-down list and click Save Changes. Alternatively, enter a unique name at the top and click Add As New if you don’t want to overwrite the original template.
4) Click Close, Minimize to leave tbbMeter running in the background. lf you exceed the limit defined in Step 3, you’ll get a pop-up message. The monitor window will then let you keep a close eye on use as you approach your daily or monthly limit.