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Granny Smith
3rd July 2009, 07:35 AM
Dear MacTalkers,
Me again. Today I was notified by my ISP that I'm close to my download limit for the current month (which resets on Jul 8). This is the second month in a row it's happned. Last month I had to shell out to switch to a higher-usage plan for a few days to bridge the gap (and it took them four full business days to switch it over - unbelievable).
Last month there might have been a good reason why I hit my limit (carelessness on my part); this month there is no such reason.
I am suspicious.
I have been searching for internet usage meters, but with no luck. All the ones I've found so far simply use the info as posted by the ISP and then report back. This is obviously no good if the ISP data is dodgy - which is what I need to determine.
Is there such thing that monitors internet/e-mail traffic in and out "AT THE MAC", as it were, and can keep track of cumulative usage over a given period (ideally a month or so)?
Unless I have something to go to the ISP with to query their usage calulcation, I really haven't got a leg to stand on.
Thanks again in advance,
GS.

PS It's Bigpond Cable.

(PPS - Mods, sorry if I've overlooked an existing answer to this question somewhere on MacTalk, but I have had a look - really!)

pengu
3rd July 2009, 08:22 AM
Its more likely that you're downloading more than you think than an ISP's quota calculations being wrong.

I don't know what the deal is with Telstra Cable, but most ISP's simply cap your speed once you reach your quota, so if it's only a few days it's not a big deal.

Granny Smith
3rd July 2009, 09:14 AM
Hi Pengu,
Thanks for your reply, and yes, you're right, it' likely the usage meter is right. But then, I always thought it was more likely than not that my phone company's bill was correct - and upon careful checking, I turned out to be very wrong about that.
Slowing the speed is exactly what happens, as you say - I do not get billed for excess usage - but a 64kbps connection is torture, and problematic for my business (which relies quite heavily on turning things around quickly and sometimes sending relatively large files).
Going for a higher allowance is an option - but only if my reported usage is genuine. I'm not happy paying more for higher allowance if it turns out I'm not even really using the full allowance on the plan I've got.
GS

leon
3rd July 2009, 09:46 AM
You could always use iStat to monitor network usage and note down what you use for each internet session.

Only problem is that it will include all network traffic so transferring files around will show up. Although it you keep careful notes you should be able to subtract these from your total.

pengu
3rd July 2009, 10:14 AM
What is your network setup?

How many computers use the local network, and if so how do they connect (WiFi, or a wired)?

mac_man_luke
3rd July 2009, 10:46 AM
Do you have WIFI? if so is it secured with WPA?

Lutze
3rd July 2009, 11:06 AM
Advice I'd give.

Stop using Mail.app. Use a web client for your email instead. Reason for this is that junk mail still gets downloaded - at your cap expense. Yes, it's slight annoying - but it will save you data.

Make sure System Update is not turned on. It will often download things and keep them ready for you to install - but if you don't install them they will get re-downloaded next time you are on.

Don't keep Safari open on Top Sites - it will fetch the updates as they come like RSS.

If you are not using the computer turn it off.

Read the terms and conditions on your BigPong contract - make sure that data is measured accurately - with the mobile systems they often measure in blocks - so a 80k email download in 10 mins will be rounded up to 1mb.

Remember - with BigPong your upload data is counted.

pengu
3rd July 2009, 11:41 AM
Advice I'd give.

Stop using Mail.app. Use a web client for your email instead. Reason for this is that junk mail still gets downloaded - at your cap expense. Yes, it's slight annoying - but it will save you data.

Make sure System Update is not turned on. It will often download things and keep them ready for you to install - but if you don't install them they will get re-downloaded next time you are on.

Don't keep Safari open on Top Sites - it will fetch the updates as they come like RSS.

If you are not using the computer turn it off.

Read the terms and conditions on your BigPong contract - make sure that data is measured accurately - with the mobile systems they often measure in blocks - so a 80k email download in 10 mins will be rounded up to 1mb.

Remember - with BigPong your upload data is counted.

While it's true that Mail.app downloads junk mail, I find it hard to believe junk mail is pushing anyone over cap. They are generally text only with references to images on web servers (so they can track email accounts that actually exist).

As for Software Update. Yes it can be set to download updates automatically, but the bit about it downloading them each time you log in seems very unlikely. The whole point is that it downloads the update in the background and keeps it ready to install. If you're that concerned, just set it to check only, so you can choose when you download the updates.

scritch
3rd July 2009, 11:51 AM
It's not a free tool but I've used Net Monitor in the past.

Net Monitor Software (http://homepage.mac.com/rominar/net.html)

I believe it will do what you need.

Regards,
Shane.

Dante Kyar
3rd July 2009, 11:55 AM
Bigpond cable is dodgy.... we had usage recorded while no one was in the house. Called them up and complained about being charged extra due to moving to a lower level plan for the months we were away.

No updates were possible, our security is mac address filtering, and WPA or WPA2 security. Plus there weren't any updates released to account for the increased usage. It was particularly strange in that it was the exact same upload and download for multiple days during the month.

Now we just stick to the 12gb plan when we're not home. It's a pain, but i'm hooked on the speed.

My advice would be to download istat, be careful transferring files over the network, and leave your computer on for a month, or record the usage at the end of the day before turning off.

It should be pretty close to what bigpond are telling you.

Also check your security, and if feasible, add mac address filtering and use WPA (or WPA2 i think).

That way if it happens again, you can just out-nerd the tech support guys and get credit to your account. That's what we did. Of course this doesn't actually fix the problem.

Dante Kyar
3rd July 2009, 11:57 AM
It's not a free tool but I've used Net Monitor in the past.

Net Monitor Software (http://homepage.mac.com/rominar/net.html)

I believe it will do what you need.

Regards,
Shane.

Did you make that shane?

Looks quite good

Lutze
3rd July 2009, 11:57 AM
While it's true that Mail.app downloads junk mail, I find it hard to believe junk mail is pushing anyone over cap. They are generally text only with references to images on web servers (so they can track email accounts that actually exist).

As for Software Update. Yes it can be set to download updates automatically, but the bit about it downloading them each time you log in seems very unlikely. The whole point is that it downloads the update in the background and keeps it ready to install. If you're that concerned, just set it to check only, so you can choose when you download the updates.

It depends on the cap that the OP has - as it stands it sounds like it's a close run thing at the end of each month. So any data you can save is a good thing.

dickg
3rd July 2009, 04:08 PM
Interesting article in Tuesday's IT section of The Australian on exactly your problem. DoubleClick by David Frith. (You can get it thru The Oz website.)

As for me, I fluked free satellite broadband through the Aust Broadband Guarantee. I have a 200M plan, shaped to dial-up when I exceed that. As a low downloader, I can simply go to bed if shaped, and, as it's always on, the download will chug along while I dream. Sure beats the dial-up I had before!

scritch
4th July 2009, 02:29 PM
Did you make that shane?

Looks quite good

Nah not mine... just an app I've used :)

Regards,
Shane.

ashIV
5th July 2009, 07:25 PM
I have had also many issues with Bigpond Cable and exceeding data. Data recorded when no one is home and the modem is off, Usage doubling when i move to a bigger plan (same speed connection) and many other issues. But as i can't get adsl2 where i am its the best option i have, 60gig for $99 (discounted with phone/foxtel). Speeds are great and i never have dropout problems, but Bigpond shit me up the fkn wall. Will move along when something better comes up thou.

Dust For Eyes
5th July 2009, 08:21 PM
Advice I'd give.
Make sure System Update is not turned on. It will often download things and keep them ready for you to install - but if you don't install them they will get re-downloaded next time you are on.


For us iinet users software updates turn up in the Freezone. For me, the software updates are the only thing that I have in the Freezone. Since the 15th of last month, there's has been over 4 gig worth of software updates for me.

That might have something to do with your larger than expected quota usage.

Darwiniandude
5th July 2009, 10:41 PM
1) When your contract is up, ditch bigpond. There is nothing more expensive & dodgy, IMO.

2) Let us know how many computers you have on the network, what kind of network it is. If you do data transfers between multiple machines the only way you can set up a meter is to use an old pc or mac with two network cards in it:

Modem <-> PC with net monitor and two network cards <-> Router and rest of network.

That's what I did anyway.

3) Are you torrenting? Remember you normally upload ~ 1.5x times the download, eg 1GB down might mean 1.5GB up.

4) Are bigpond counting uploads aswell as downloads? See point 3: Your innocent 1GB download just used 2.5GB of your cap, and more if you leave the torrent client open.

5) If you want to ditch the 'pond, check out Whirlpool Broadband News (http://whirlpool.net.au/) by far the best place to go ISP shopping in OZ.

kitsune
6th July 2009, 11:18 AM
One other thing to watch out for is that ISPs, like HDD manafacturers, list their usage quotas in metric gigabytes (1GB = 1,000,000,000b), whereas your computer will tend to measure data in binary megabytes/gigabytes (1GiB=1024MiB=1,073,741,824B).

My preferred way to monitor network usage is to a hardware router with traffic logging functionality. Linksys WRT54GLs are fantastic for this, as you can pick one up fairly cheaply and install custom firmware like Tomato Firmware (http://www.polarcloud.com/tomato) to add piles of useful functionality, including traffic logging.

Granny Smith
6th July 2009, 08:55 PM
1) When your contract is up, ditch bigpond. There is nothing more expensive & dodgy, IMO.

2) Let us know how many computers you have on the network, what kind of network it is. If you do data transfers between multiple machines the only way you can set up a meter is to use an old pc or mac with two network cards in it:

Modem <-> PC with net monitor and two network cards <-> Router and rest of network.

That's what I did anyway.

3) Are you torrenting? Remember you normally upload ~ 1.5x times the download, eg 1GB down might mean 1.5GB up.

4) Are bigpond counting uploads aswell as downloads? See point 3: Your innocent 1GB download just used 2.5GB of your cap, and more if you leave the torrent client open.

5) If you want to ditch the 'pond, check out Whirlpool Broadband News (http://whirlpool.net.au/) by far the best place to go ISP shopping in OZ.


Sorry .... been AWOL for a few days. To address some of the questions above:
Running a wireless network (SSID disabled, access controlled, WPA2 encrypted password ... I'm not sure how much more secure I can make it). There are in total four Macs on the network (one hardwired in, three running wireless) and two handheld devices (iPod Touch, iPhone).
I am not torrenting (not even sure what that is), but yes, I have run some software updates recently - but no more (or so it seems) than in earlier months.
Monthy usage figures are (measured to the 8th day of each month): July: 10.3Gb (to date); June: 14.8Gb (the month it went haywire); May: 6.6Gb; April 9.1Gb; March 9.5Gb; Feb 10.2Gb.
I'll keep an eye on it in coming months, and check the daily usage more frequently, to see if it gets weird again.
GS

Granny Smith
6th July 2009, 09:02 PM
Interesting article in Tuesday's IT section of The Australian on exactly your problem. DoubleClick by David Frith. (You can get it thru The Oz website.)

As for me, I fluked free satellite broadband through the Aust Broadband Guarantee. I have a 200M plan, shaped to dial-up when I exceed that. As a low downloader, I can simply go to bed if shaped, and, as it's always on, the download will chug along while I dream. Sure beats the dial-up I had before!

This is it:

Being throttled at least saves money | Australian IT (http://www.australianit.news.com.au/story/0,24897,25708608-39525,00.html)

and what David describes is EXACTLY what happened, even down to the Bigpond accounts and download limits (I'm on the 12Gb Liberty plan and had to upgrade to the 25Gb plan to tide me over). That is both reassuring (I may not have imagined it after all), and worrying (if it's a widespread issue).

Luvlimum
6th July 2009, 09:26 PM
Hey Granny - do you happen to be using Adium by any chance? I had the exact same problem as you did and it only started happening after I downloaded Adium. If you have it, then ensure you have the latest update which fixes the excessive download problems. If its not Adium, then I am too new myself to help with any other ideas.

Good luck with it!
T

ashIV
8th July 2009, 01:10 AM
This is it:

Being throttled at least saves money | Australian IT (http://www.australianit.news.com.au/story/0,24897,25708608-39525,00.html)

and what David describes is EXACTLY what happened, even down to the Bigpond accounts and download limits (I'm on the 12Gb Liberty plan and had to upgrade to the 25Gb plan to tide me over). That is both reassuring (I may not have imagined it after all), and worrying (if it's a widespread issue).

This is exactly what happen to me, i was on 12gb for a long time never had a problem then last October i had to move to 25gb and 2 months ago i moved to the 60gb. The first month of the 60gb plan i was some how burning through 2 gig a day and just made it through the month. Things settled down last month and everything has been ok with this new month so far. Like i said in my previous post i don't have much of a option for decent internet but when i can i will move farrrr away from bigpond.

techydude
8th July 2009, 04:13 AM
and what David describes is EXACTLY what happened, even down to the Bigpond accounts and download limits (I'm on the 12Gb Liberty plan and had to upgrade to the 25Gb plan to tide me over). That is both reassuring (I may not have imagined it after all), and worrying (if it's a widespread issue).

wow, i vaguely remember seeing data usage on my bigpond cable service even when i was away on holidays/etc back in 2003 - nice to see Bigpond are still screwing their customers in ways that can be difficult to contest...

you don't mention what kind of wireless router you're using, but what Kitsune suggests above (putting 'Tomato' firmware into a Linksys router) is probably your best bet if you're seriously determined to get to the bottom of this issue, cuz with so many devices and data transfer between them (not involving internet bandwidth) will make the job of tracking internet data on each device using a utility an almost impossible task.

but consider also that Apple have been pushing out a LOT of their kitchen-sink-included updates lately (Leopard 10.5.7, iPhone/iPodTouch 3.0, Safari 4.0 then 4.0.1, several iLife apps updates, even the recent Java update weighs in at a ridiculous 120(?)Mb) - there's probably been ~1GB of Mac/Leopard+iPhone updates in the last month or two. multiply that by your number of computers/devices, and this probably accounts for your recent gluttony :).

Anthony.

Mountaineer
16th August 2009, 12:44 PM
A friend and I have also recently experienced high usage claims by our ISPs.

In my case my usage suddenly went over my normal allowance - I have a 2 gig plan with Optus, not much but its all I need at the moment. Last month it went over without, to my knowledge, any change in my usage. I have one Mac connected, no home network. I am also on a wireless modem plan as I can't get a landline connection where I am, this has been problematic also with numerous daily dropouts.
This months usage for my Optus plan has also gone over the limit again already, plus I am charged per megabyte for excess usage, something that didn't happen when I had a landline connection.

My friend is with Telstra Bigpond, they have a 12 gig plan, they rarely go over 6 gigs. Last month it went over 12 gigs with no change in their usage habits.

I appreciate some of the comments re usage like software update etc and will follow this advice.

It all sounds a bit suss, and pretty bloody annoying, perhaps its an issue for Fair Trading, Choice consumers association also comes to mind, I don't like being ripped off.

How would a big telco go about screwing up their metering setup, to either take advantage of their customers or to deliberately or not sabotage the metering of their client's usage for whatever reason. Or is it sunspots, http://forums.mactalk.com.au/images/smilies/biggrin.png