What Is Bandwidth Control Usage?

Everything you need to know about bandwidth control

Bandwidth control, also called bandwidth management, is a feature some software programs and hardware devices support that allows you to restrict how much of the network's bandwidth the program or hardware is allowed to use.

When Should You Control Bandwidth Usage?

An ISP or business network may control bandwidth as well, but it's generally done to limit certain types of network traffic or to save money during peak hours. This sort of bandwidth control that's not quite in your control is referred to as bandwidth throttling.

While a bandwidth control option is a common find in hardware devices like routers, you're more likely to actually need this feature when using certain kinds of software.

The most common place where bandwidth control might be something worth considering is in tools that transmit and receive lots of data over your network, something that frequently happens with download managers, online backup programs, and cloud storage services.

In these cases, there's generally a very large number of files that are being uploaded or downloaded at once, activities that can cause network congestion as more and more of the available bandwidth is being used for those processes.

As congestion increases, you may experience a slowdown of your normal network activities, like transferring files between computers, streaming videos or music, or even just browsing the web.

When you notice congesting happening, using bandwidth control options in these types of programs can help lessen the negative impact they're having.

Bandwidth Control Options

Some bandwidth control options let you define the exact amount of bandwidth (often in kilobytes per second) that can be used for each task, while others let you apply a percentage of the total bandwidth to the program in question (e.g., 20 percent or 100 percent). Still, others let you limit bandwidth based on the time of day or on other criteria.

When backing up files, for example, the general idea is to create a reasonable balance between the bandwidth the backup program can use and the "leftover" bandwidth that can be utilized for other things like internet browsing.

On the other hand, if the internet isn't being used for anything else at the time, or for less important things, bandwidth control comes in handy to ensure that all the available bandwidth your computer and network has available can be given to the one task or software program.

Free Software That Limits Bandwidth

Free Download Manager bandwidth control options
Bandwidth Control Options in Free Download Manager.

In addition to the programs already mentioned that include bandwidth controls within them, are tools that exist solely for limiting the bandwidth of other programs, specifically ones that don't already allow for bandwidth management.

Unfortunately, lots of "per-program" bandwidth regulators are only trial versions and therefore free for just a short time. NetLimiter is an example.

If you want to limit file downloads, your best option is to use that download manager list above to find a program that can monitor your web browser for downloads, intercept the download, and import any and all downloads into the download manager. What you then essentially have is bandwidth control set up for all your file downloads.

Download Managers in Action

For example, say you're downloading lots of files through Google Chrome and find that it's going to take a long time to finish. Ideally, you want Chrome to only use just 10 percent of all your network bandwidth so that you can stream Netflix in the other room without interruptions, but Chrome doesn't support managing bandwidth (unless you tweak some not-so-obvious settings).

Instead of canceling the downloads and starting them again in a download manager that does support such control, you can simply install a download manager that will always "listen" for downloads and then perform them for you based on the bandwidth controls that you customized.

Free Download Manager is one example of a tool that will automatically download files for you that you instigate from within your browser. It can also limit the bandwidth usage to whatever you choose.

How Routers Can Help

Some routers have an option to prioritize traffic to one specific device, which is the same as allocating more of the network bandwidth for that device than for other ones. Google Wifi is one example, where the app lets you choose a Chromecast, for example, to get more of the bandwidth than a tablet or phone on the same network, which you might do to reduce buffering with Spotify, Netflix, or some other service you're casting.

  • How do I use Linksys bandwidth control?

    To limit bandwidth on your Linksys router, log in as the administrator, then select Applications & Gaming > QoS > Upstream Bandwidth. Next, enter the MAC address and name of the device you want to control. Set the Priority field to High, Normal, or Low.

  • What are the best routers with bandwidth control?

    The best routers for bandwidth control support the Quality of Service (QoS) feature to manage traffic for each connected device. A few routers that support QoS include the TP-Link AC1750, NETGEAR WiFi Router AC1200, and some parental control routers.

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