Best Bandwidth Limiter Tools

Traffic management requires some tough choices when the solution of just buying-in extra equipment to expand capacity is not available. There are a number of cost-free measures you can take to find extra capacity. For example, traffic shaping measures, such as queuing can really help improve the response times of time-sensitive applications.

Examining traffic patterns can identify underutilized resources that could be moved to increase capacity on busy links.

When your topology and sub domains are optimized, you will probably find that traffic just increases and uses up all of the spare capacity you squeezed out of the network. Some business activities and applications just generate a lot of traffic and will continue to gobble up all available capacity.

Here is our list of the best bandwidth limiter & controller tools:

  1. SolarWinds Bandwidth Analyzer Pack EDITOR’S CHOICE Our top pick for bandwidth limiting. This combination of performance and traffic monitoring teams up a range of automated tools to manage traffic and keep networks in good health. Runs on Windows Server. Download the 30-day free trial.
  2. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor Network monitoring tool with bandwidth monitoring and limiting features you can use to control consumption. Automatically discovers devices.
  3. ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer NetFlow analyzer with bandwidth management with QoS policies, a customizable dashboard, alerts, and more.
  4. NetLimiter Bandwidth limiter for Windows devices with traffic prioritization, blocking, and limiting.
  5. NetBalancer Bandwidth limiter with upload limits, download limits, interactive graphs, computer synchronization, and more.
  6. Zscaler Cloud-based firewall with bandwidth controls for traffic limiting, prioritization, traffic usage reports, and more.
  7. SoftPerfect Bandwidth Manager Bandwidth limiter with traffic prioritization rules, a live usage monitor, email notifications, usage reports, and more.
  8. Untangle NG Firewall Bandwidth management software available with Untangle NG Firewall, with traffic blocking and reports.

The best bandwidth limiter software

Ultimately, your only choice is to limit the network capacity that is available to those bandwidth hogs. Fortunately, there are some excellent bandwidth limiters available and many of them are integrated into comprehensive network monitoring and traffic management tools.

What should you look for in a bandwidth limiter tool? 

We reviewed the market for bandwidth limiter tools and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:

  • Options for different traffic shaping methods
  • Tracking and tagging for virtual LANs
  • Support for the implementation of queueing
  • Traffic monitoring services that include protocol analysis
  • Capacity planning support
  • A no-risk assessment period either through a free trial or a money-back guarantee
  • A set of tools that will recover its cost through savings and performance improvements in the network

Let’s examine the best bandwidth limiter tools on the market today.

1. SolarWinds Bandwidth Analyzer Pack EDITOR’S CHOICE

SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer

The SolarWinds Network Bandwidth Analyzer Pack includes two network management modules. These are the Network Performance Monitor and the NetFlow Traffic Analyzer. The combination of the two systems gives network administrators complete control over a network.

Key features:

  • Includes automatic network discovery
  • Generates network topology maps
  • Shows link statuses live
  • Includes traffic shaping measures
  • Packet capture and analysis tools
  • Includes alerts for performance threshold breaches

The two tools combine in a number of cross-modular utilities, such as the drill-down analysis feature called PerfStack, which is a visual representation of all activities on the network, represented as a stack of services. This enables busy administrators to see straight away which service is the root cause of traffic problems. Other screens display traffic flows between two nominated points on the network, showing the statuses of each link.

SolarWinds NetFlow Analyzer

The tool is able to capture router traffic for analysis and aggregate data per application or per endpoint. The tool also includes traffic shaping measures such as the implementation of QoS queueing and bandwidth limiting per application or endpoint.

Pros:

  • Offers a pair of tools that work in tandem to give the most complete view into bandwidth usage and performance
  • Built with network professionals in mind, supports basic root cause analysis to quicker troubleshooting
  • Supports built-in visualizations and graphing
  • Can capture traffic live for more accurate testing and measurements
  • Offers traffic shaping tools and prioritization functions to test QoS services and VoIP networks
  • Has a wide range of plugins that can extend functionality even further

Cons:

  • Not for home users, this is a complex tool build and designed for network professionals

The SolarWinds Network Bandwidth Analyzer Pack installs on Windows Server and it is available for a 30-day free trial. Other SolarWinds modules can be added to the pack, such as the User Device Tracker, to enhance monitoring and control capabilities.

EDITOR'S CHOICE

The SolarWinds Bandwidth Analyzer Pack is our top choice for bandwidth management because it includes monitoring features, performance analysis tools, and automated traffic management utilities. Excellent visualizations aid in problem recognition, identifying the source of traffic problems whether that be over-active applications, faulty equipment, or poorly-planned topology. The range of traffic shaping measures in the pack means that you can squeeze the best performance out of limited resources.

Start 30-day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/network-bandwidth-analyzer-pack/use-cases/bandwidth-management-control

OS: Windows Server 2012 R2 or later

2. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor

PRTG network monitor screenshot

Paessler PRTG Network Monitor is a network monitoring tool with bandwidth monitoring. With Paessler PRTG Network Monitor you can monitor the bandwidth consumption of devices and applications through usage graphs. Graphs provide you with a top-down perspective for managing bandwidth usage.

Key features:

  • Automatically discovers devices
  • Monitor bandwidth
  • Set bandwidth limits
  • Out-of-the-box monitoring templates
  • Graphs

You can also use the platform to control bandwidth consumption. You can monitor and limit the distribution of bandwidth amongst your devices. Bandwidth limiting is useful for those scenarios where you want to stop a resource-hogging application and improve the performance of the network, reducing network congestion along the way.

Setting up your monitoring environment is easy, with the assistance of an autodiscovery feature, which automatically discovers devices. Once they’ve been added you can choose between a range of out-of-the-box sensors to manage bandwidth usages such as the SNMP traffic sensor and the Packet Sniffer Sensor.

Pros:

  • Great option for businesses looking to also implement monitoring for their applications and servers alongside their network
  • Highly customizable sensors allow administrators to build their own custom solutions
  • Dozens of sensor templates support some of the most popular applications and devices
  • Autodiscovery maps out the network and pull performance metrics right away

Cons:

  • PRTG is a highly detailed platform that requires time to fully explore all of its features

Paid versions start at $1,750 (£1,410) and are available on Windows and macOS. You can download the 30-day trial.

3. ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer

ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer

ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer is a NetFlow traffic analyzer and bandwidth management tool that can monitor traffic patterns. Through a customizable dashboard, you can monitor the top usage by application and protocol with the support of pie charts. Using these views allows you to tell immediately if there are any bandwidth hogs you need addressing.

Key features:

  • Customizable Dashboard
  • Visualizations (Graphs, Charts, Pie Charts)
  • Bandwidth usage reports
  • Apply QoS policies
  • Threshold-based Alerts

If there is excessive bandwidth consumption then you can add QoS policies to limit the traffic. You can also create access to contours lists to determine which applications can have access to your network. This is useful for eliminating any non-work applications!

If there is excessive bandwidth consumption then you can add QoS policies to limit the traffic. You can also create access to contours lists to determine which applications can have access to your network. This is useful for eliminating any non-work applications!

Pros:

  • Great interface that balances visualizations and key insights well
  • Highly customizable reports, dashboards, and monitoring tools
  • Uses simple QoS rules for quick traffic shaping
  • Built with large networks in mind, can scale to 50,000 flows
  • Available for both Linux and Windows

Cons:

  • Not the best fit for smaller LANs, more geared towards enterprise clients

ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer is one of the best dynamic bandwidth limiters with NetFlow monitoring. Whether you’re monitoring overall traffic usage from a distance or taking a microscope to one application, the platform has everything you need. Prices start at $595 (£479) for up to 50,000 flows and it’s available for Windows and Linux. There is also a 30-day free trial that you can download from this link here.

4. NetLimiter

NetLimiter Screenshot

NetLimiter is a bandwidth throttling tool that enables the user to allow or block applications and control the amount of bandwidth they’re allowed to use. NetLimiter comes with three tools that let you control network traffic: Limits, Priorities, and Blocker. Limits enable you to set a maximum bandwidth transfer speed limit for an application.

Key features:

  • Control application bandwidth usage
  • Block applications
  • Prioritize traffic
  • Customizable filters

The Priorities tool allows you to pick which application traffic has priority. NetLimiter has an internal priority engine, which automatically restricts other applications when a high priority application is in use. There are four priority levels that can be assigned: Critical, High, Normal, and Low.

Blocker allows you to block particular applications such as non-work services to minimize distractions. All of these tools can be customized with filters with the Filter Editor. Here you can filter applications by a full path, part of the path, localhost/loopback traffic, local IP address, destination IP address, local port numbers, remote port numbers, and more.

Pros:

  • Makes bandwidth throttling simple through a range of rules and policies
  • Can visually arrange processes and traffic to set priority
  • Simple licensing and pricing structure
  • Supports custom filters

Cons:

  • Only available for Windows
  • Could be made simpler with fewer nested windows and tabs

NetLimiter is ideal for enterprises that desire a simple traffic monitoring tool for Windows. NetLimiter is available for Windows 7, Vista, 8, 10, Server 2008 R2, Server 2012, and Server 2016. A Standard License costs $29.95 (£24). You can download the software from this link here.

5. NetBalancer

NetBalancer

NetBalancer is a dynamic bandwidth limiter that lets you control traffic usage on your computer. With NetBalancer you can implement download and upload limits to determine how many network resources are limited to an application. Traffic rules and filters give you complete control over the applications being used on your network.

Key Features:

  • Limit traffic
  • Traffic prioritization
  • Sync multiple computers
  • Web API
  • Graphs
  • TLS and SHA2 encryption

The software also provides you with transparency over traffic and processes. You can view a history of upload and download traffic history, which you can interact with to edit the color scheme and adjust the time frame. There are also pie charts that you can use to view traffic data such as the top processes IPs in the last 24 hours.

For managing multiple computers, NetBalancer has a web-based console where you can synchronize settings. Simply set a time frame for the sync to take place and then check the events, traffic, and command settings that will be synced. All data will be encrypted and protected by TLS and SHA2 for additional security.

Pros:

  • Lightweight tool that requires very little resources on modern machines
  • Does a good job at showing historical bandwidth usage metrics
  • Can use color-coding to make viewing processes easier on the eyes

Cons:

  • Only available for Windows
  • Datedand often feels cluttered
  • Not the most user-friendly option
  • Would like to see a longer trial period

NetBalancer is a solid low-cost bandwidth limiting solution for Windows users. The software costs $49.95 (£40). You can start the 14-day free trial from this link here.

6. Zscaler

zScaler Feature highlight

Zscaler is a cloud-based firewall that offers bandwidth controls. With Zscaler, you can route local traffic to your internet connection and apply bandwidth policies to prioritize essential applications. The platform allows you to set traffic rules by class, location, and time. For example, you can create a class for Office 365 applications and assign it to the top priority in the traffic hierarchy.

Key features:

  • Bandwidth prioritization
  • Restrict application usage
  • Limit large downloads
  • Bandwidth reports

When setting the rules, you can guarantee a particular percentage of bandwidth a class will have access to. For example, 40% for Office 365 while limiting non-essential applications like YouTube to 20%. You can speed limit large downloads to minimize the impact on network interface performance.

You can also use the program to monitor network usage with reports. Reports allow you to create graphs where you can view the difference in bandwidth usage among different applications.

Pros:

  • Operates in the cloud, no need for on-premise server
  • Can customize bandwidth allocation on a percent basis, good for larger networks and more granular control
  • Can access the dashboard via browser from anywhere

Cons:

  • Must contact sales for pricing
  • Limited reporting functionality
  • Interface is simple but lacks details found in similar tools

Zscaler is a product designed for those using lots of cloud-based applications, who want a solution to manage bandwidth controls centrally. Zscaler has a subscription pricing model, but you need to contact the company directly for a quote. You can request a demo from this link here.

7. SoftPerfect Bandwidth Manager

SoftPerfect Bandwidth Manager

SoftPerfect Bandwidth Manager is a bandwidth limiter or traffic shaper that enables you to monitor and control network traffic. With SoftPerfect Bandwidth Manager, you can implement traffic prioritization rules to select which users have priority. You can also implement bandwidth throttling rules for IPs, MAC addresses, ports, and network interfaces, to make sure that network performance remains high.

Key features:

  • Live usage monitor
  • Traffic prioritization rules
  • Usage reports
  • Email notifications

Email notifications keep you notified about any important traffic changes. If you want to be more proactive then you can use usage reports to take a closer look at the activities of users throughout your network. Notifications and reports are great for helping you to stay on top of usage trends.

If you want to monitor live traffic then you can use the Live Usage Monitor. Here you can view streams in real-time and the most active streams in the past 30 seconds. There are network usage graphs to help to illustrate traffic changes over time to help you make sense of what’s going on.

Pros:

  • Offers bandwidth limiting and traffic shaping, giving it more flexibility than similar tools
  • Has a simple interface that works well on smaller networks
  • Can set up email notifications when certain thresholds are breached
  • Does a good job of showing real-time usage across different processes

Cons:

  • Only available for Windows
  • Not the best fit for larger networks, better suited for small LANs
  • Would like to see more alert options

SoftPerfect Bandwidth Manager is a fit for companies that require a basic bandwidth throttling. A single license costs $49.00 (£39), and the software is available for Windows. You can download the 30-day free trial from this link here.

8. Untangle Bandwidth Control (With Untangle NG Firewall)

Untangle Bandwidth Control

Untangle Bandwidth Control is a bandwidth management tool that comes with Untangle NG Firewall. With Untangle Bandwidth Control you can monitor bandwidth usage throughout your network and impose controls. Create traffic rules to determine which applications have priority and give hosts quotas for traffic usage.

Key features:

  • Monitor bandwidth usage
  • Traffic-shaping rules
  • Bandwidth usage reports
  • Block bandwidth hogs

Quotas determine how much data a user can consume during a particular time period over the users’ Internet connection. If users exceed that quota, then you can configure the program to block their access automatically. This is great for blocking bandwidth hogs. All of these configurations can be edited easily through the Rules tab.

You can also create reports for more information on traffic usage. Reports can be managed through the Reports tab where you can view a range of reports on Bandwidth Usage, Top Hostnames Usage, Top Clients usage, Top Usernames Usage, Top Ports, Top Applications Usage, and more. These reports come with graphs so you can see inbound traffic as well as outbound patterns in more detail.

Pros:

  • Comes with a hardware firewall competent, good for businesses who don’t already have a physical firewall in place
  • Rules are easily edited through a rule creation wizard
  • Reports are detailed and easy to build
  • Can whitelist applications easily, allowing for quick fixes to bandwidth issues

Cons:

  • Cbe improved with fewer options on the home screen
  • Could use a longer trial period
  • Requires a physical device, not great for networks that don’t want additional hardware on their network

Untangle Bandwidth control is ideal if you want a tool for traffic prioritization that automatically blocks non-compliant users and bandwidth throttling. You can purchase the bandwidth control tool as part of Untangle NG Firewall Complete, which starts at $25 (£20) per month. You can start the 14-day free trial here.

Related post: Best Bandwidth Monitoring Tools

Choosing a Bandwidth Limiter Tool

It only takes a couple of rogue bandwidth hogs to disrupt your network’s performance. Whether certain applications are consuming too much bandwidth or individual users are downloading lots of content or streaming, the best bandwidth limiters will be able to minimize the impact on the network.

Our top picks for this article are SolarWinds Bandwidth Analyzer Pack, Paessler PRTG Network Monitor, and ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer, as they offer a mix of bandwidth monitoring visibility coupled with QoS controls for reigning in bandwidth hogs and delivering solid user experience.

Related post: The difference between Throughput and Bandwidth

Bandwidth Limiter & Controller  FAQs

What does bandwidth control do?

Bandwidth control allows you to restrict the amount of network capacity that is generated by a piece of software or handled by a piece of hardware. This is useful for businesses that do not have enough budget to provide the maximum required network bandwidth for all of its software and needs to prevent one application from overwhelming the system.

Does QoS slow down the internet?

The capacity of your internet gateway is finite. You can only slow it down by reducing the capacity of your gateway interface or lowering the bandwidth of your internet service plan. QoS gives priority to certain applications – usually interactive services such as streaming video or VoIP. The overall capacity of the internet connection remains the same, but some services get slowed to favor others.

How do I disable a bandwidth limiter on my network?

All bandwidth limiters can be turned off. However, where you go to remove the restriction depends on where the limiter is operating. If you didn’t activate the limit, you will need to analyze the traffic on your network to detect whether the limit is imposed within a piece of software, in an operating system, or on a network device.

Can I limit my network bandwidth manually?

Network bandwidth relies on the capacity of the cables and devices that serve it. Downgrading any piece of hardware will lower network bandwidth. However, this will more likely result in packet loss. Limit bandwidth for a particular function is to use the options within the software you want to limit or within the operating system of the device that you want to restrict.