Useful utility: NetMeter

While my primary workstation is a Core Duo iMac running OS X, I consider myself platform-agnostic at this point. My fileserver at home is a Core 2 Duo E6600, running XP Pro SP2. I also have several other boxes that run XP, and it’s often a necessary thing to monitor network traffic.

One of the issues I encountered during this workterm was slow downloads over a mapped network drive. With conventional tools for Windows, it’s not possible to accurately monitor the transmit rate. This is where I install the freeware utility NetMeter, which is a useful network activity monitor and graph for Windows 2000 and XP. I configure the application with the following settings:

NetMeter - settings dialog

I align the NetMeter window directly to the bottom right of my screen, just above the standard Windows taskbar. When I mouseover the 50% transparent window (to access a scrollbar or status bar), the window fades down to about 10% transparent:

NetMeter - faded out

In the case at work, we were able to determine that downloads from a certain system were transferring at a rate well below what was expected, without calling the support team. I use NetMeter on my laptop to determine wireless network performance and ensure wired networks are operating properly at 1000Mbit – it’s good to have a rough idea of how well your connection is performing.