How to easily monitor your web usage in Windows 8.1

I used to think that the days of tracking my use of the web were over. In the days of dial up connections, I -- like just about everyone else using the internet -- was painfully aware that every minute online was costing me money. Along came broadband and it brought with it new limitations. Some ISPs offered unlimited bandwidth, but many placed restrictions on how much it was possible to upload and download.

For many people, this is still true, although there are a number of ISPs who offer truly unlimited tariffs. If you are with such an ISP, hold on to it dearly. They are a dying breed. Going mobile, my mind often used to turn to bandwidth usage, lest my mobile provider hit me with a gigantic bill at the end of the month for downloading everything under the sun on my phone. Thankfully, I now have an unlimited data tariff, so I can happily download day in, day out.

But within Windows, I'd become used to just not thinking about how much I was downloading. Why should I concern myself? I pay the same whether I download 1GB or 100GB of data in a month. Living in rural Scotland I've had to endure tying dire broadband since moving house back in April. It has been the bane of my life, and there have been times when I would love to be able to even think about downloading 1GB in a month, let alone worry about whether it's going to take me over any limit.

Now things are different. I've just had satellite broadband installed. Like the early days of DSL, satellite connections come with limitations. I'm going to have to keep a close watch on how much I'm using the internet or my connection will be throttled. I spent a little time wondering how to keep track of how many gigabytes I've managed to eat through. It turns out that mobiles are big culprits, but as my girlfriend and I are both permanently connected to the web there are at least two laptop to consider.

I browsed various download sites and recalled various bandwidth trackers like NetWorx. But then I remembered something. Windows 8.x can do it all for me! I don’t need an app, it's a built in feature! I'd forgotten about it, and you may have to. Here's how to use it:

  • Click the network icon in the notification area of the system tray and right click the network you are connect to or want to monitor.
  • Click the Set as metered connection option.
  • Right click again and select Show estimated data usage.
  • To start with a blank slate, click the Reset link.

From this point forward, if you want to check how much data you've transferred, click the network icon followed by the network name. That's all there is to it.

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