How many ways can you watch network traffic flow through your Mac? I have a few favorites because I’m a bit of a sucker for all that glitters. It may not be gold, but a little color and some eye candy goes a long way toward telling the truth; and the truth is this: I’m dazzled by charts and graph eye candy, and even more so if they’re showing real time data.
Here’s the basic scenario. Your Mac is connected to the internet through a modem or router somewhere in the house or office (probably with a number of other devices connected, too). How can you find out how much bandwidth you or others on the network are using, and which devices use the most? How can you tell if your Mac’s network connection is working OK? Here is the app that does the deed.
Visualize, Analyze, Realize
One of my favorite Mac Menubar utilities is called PeakHour. The latest version tracks your Mac’s network connection, stores bandwidth and performance data, and gives you a quick and dirty snapshot of your network. One click to the Mac’s Menubar reveals current and past network performance to and from your Mac. A quick glance to the Menubar lets you know how much data has been coming in or going out.
PeakHour’s realtime view lets you zoom in to specific times, display various connected network devices, and, if you’re on a metered connection, send you usage notices to make sure you don’t use more bandwidth than you want.
Setting up PeakHour takes a few minutes and isn’t geeky at all. Tracking begins immediately and works with multiple devices. One benefit of tracking data, incoming and outgoing, is to make sure you’re getting what you pay for. Take a look.
Think of PeakHour as a speedometer for your home or office network. ISPs usually track bandwidth but results are not always accurate. With PeakHour you’re eable to track performance and usage in real time via Wi-Fi, Macs, PCs, NAS servers, or other devices.
There’s a way to check on PeakHour using the PeakHour Remote website so you can monitor traffic from another Mac or iPhone. There’s a healthy amount of eye candy flowing through your Mac’s internet connection. Why not take a bite?
The only caveat to using PeakHour is your router or modem– whether DSL or cable– which must be capable of collecting the right data. PeakHour requires a modern UPnP (plug and play) or SNMP capable device to gather and record data. Apple’s recent Airport devices do not.
Fortunately, there’s a built-in way to check by using the trial version.
PeakHour works on macOS, sends you alerts when certain thresholds are exceeded, and can monitor most of the devices on your home network. There’s even a dark mode for the app to match the dark mode on macOS.
If there’s a better way for Mac users to monitor local home or small office network traffic, I haven’t found it.