How to Monitor your Home or Company Wireless Network Traffic




Monitoring your home Network Traffic

i always wanted to monitor and control the Ingoing/Outgoing traffic of all computers in my home, check websites my son is visiting, Streams being played, Prioritize a computer over another etc... . unfortunately,this is not an evident task especially if there are multiple computers in the network, because all connections are being managed only by the router, there are two solutions to accomplish this task:

  • the simplest approach is to buy a router with shaping Capabilities: many routers ship with filtering capabilities and Qos(quality of service) Engine which allow you to priorities network traffic, for example give Online Gaming priority over Web browsing, also, you can filter accessing to websites based on url or keyword: adding the word "porn" to your black list will block most pornography pages.
    Popular brands like Linksys and Netgear implement other Access Restrictions features such as time access Limiting and Group Based Filtering.

    access restrictions

    for accessing In/Out Traffic informations try to locate the SysLog(System Log) panel in the router configuration web interface and enable it, you will get a detailed report from there.

    system log

    the down side of going with this approach is you are limited to features being offered by the router.

  • the second Approach is to use your computer as a router and distribute the traffic to other devices in your home, your machine will be the only one connected to the dsl line.



Monitoring Company Network

Network traffic is often far from predictable, The network load is subject to large fluctuations and unexpected problems that occur in the worst times. With the help of network monitoring software, you will have a better view of what is going on with your network, so you can detect problems easily and sometimes even before they occur.
a network monitor software should do effectively the following tasks:

  • Find out what applications are using your bandwidth.
  • Provide real-time monitoring reports for every interface on the network.
  • Troubleshoot and resolve network issues.

if you're planning to monitor a small company traffic, you probably don't need more than these basic functions.
however, for large companies, needs are much more larger, an analysis has to be made in order to find the best monitoring solution,for example:

  • access control function: limiting the use of some parts of the tools to certain administrators.
  • Data Storage Method (Mysql,Oracle,PostgreSQL...).
  • Web based Application: does the software include a web application and which functions this web app provides.

here is a comparison between most popular Network Monitoring Softwares:

Network Monitor softwares Comparison
Product: Cacti Nagios Orion Zenoss Zabbix
License: GPL GPL Commercial Commercial(there is also a
freeware version)
GPL
HomePage: http://www.cacti.net http://www.nagios.org http://www.solarwinds.com http://zenoss.com http://www.zabbix.com
Reports: via Plugin
Access Control:
Statistics Prediction:
Plugins:
a large set of plugins
Data Storage Method: MySQL,RRDtool Flat file, SQL SQL MySQL,RRDtool,ZODB IBM DB2,Oracle,
MySQL,SQLite,PostgreSQL
Control via WebApp
IPv6
Alerts
graphical network maps via Plugin
Editor description Cacti provides advanced graph templating, multiple data acquisition methods, and user management features etc.. . All of this is wrapped in an intuitive, easy to use interface. Nagios is a powerful monitoring system that enables organizations to identify and resolve IT infrastructure problems before they affect critical business processes. Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) delivers powerful network performance monitoring at an affordable price. Zenoss delivers network monitoring to some of today's largest private networks ,it is used by more than 10,000 companies . Zabbix offers advanced monitoring, alerting and visualisation features today which are missing in other monitoring systems, even some of the best commercial ones.