Saturday, February 23, 2008

Internet Data Usage Quick Check

I use broadband connection and my service provider has a dedicated portal to check my data usage. The data usage portal is not instant. It takes couple of hours to update my usage report. I wanted something through which I can quickly know how much data I downloaded in that instant of time.
One nice way I found that, checking the received packets count in windows network connection status. Which I can easily access clicking the network icon sitting in system tray.

The connection status window clearly shows number of packets sent and received over the connected network for tracked duration of time. In most of the cases, there will be 1460 bytes in one packet we receive or send. Now I can calculate how much of Mega Bytes of data my system has downloaded by doing a simple mathematics.

Downloaded data in MB = (Packets received * 1460) / (1024 * 1024)

In Windows Vista, the connection status window directly shows the
number bytes sent and received, we no need to bother about bytes per packet stuff.

Though my requirement was fulfilled from above discovery, I just could not stop my self digging more.

In computer networking world, the maximum number of bytes per one packet referred as Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU). This is the specification for a given protocol which it can transfer maximum number of bytes per packet. The MTU is defined by the standard or determined at the connection establishment process. For faster network, MTU will be less and for slower network, MTU will be more to manage forthcoming packet lagging time.

Using simple “MTU Route” utility (which you can download here) you can figure out number of bytes per packet on your machine. When you download the utility, you get a zip file, on extraction you will get an executable which you have to run in DOS prompt issuing this command:

mturoute.exe -t

If you expect more speed from your network, you can tweak bytes per packet in your Windows XP system by adding new MTU registry entry.

Start -> Run -> regedit

Navigate to System Key: [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\
Interfaces\[Adapter ID]]

Value Name: MTU

Data Type: REG_DWORD (DWORD Value)

Value Data: Default = 0xffffffff (your tweaking value like 0x000005dc for 1500)

Here is the recommended values set
1500 bytes for Ethernet, DSL and Cable Broadband Connections
1492 bytes for PPPoE Broadband Connections
576 bytes for Dial-up Connections

Well, I just left my XP operating system to work with its default settings.
Above registry manipulation may cause bad network response for some network adapters so be careful. Please do not hold me responsible if something goes wrong in your machine from above mentioned settings as these steps are only recommended for expert and level above computer users.


nsangoye said...

Thanks Pavan... Was really helpful. I was wondering how to calculate my data usage and the Airtel guys wouldnt divulge as I am using an unlimited connection. Thanks again.

Pavan Gayakwad | SrushtiSoft said...

nsangoye, I am glad that you found it useful.

Gwyneth Suggs said...

*chuckles* A four year old post is still helpful. Thanks for doing the looking into this. I am looking to get one of the portable internet devices but wanted to know about how much data I typically use before I go in to purchase, that way I know better what monthly plan will work for me. This helped me out a lot!

Pavan Gayakwad | SrushtiSoft said...

Hello Gwyneth Suggs, Good to know it was useful. Thanks for your comments.