Toy Box: Three apps to test your connection

Monitoring traffic over your broadband connection is easy if you've got an IT department armed with server logs, firewall records and what-have-you, but at home it's a different matter.

Monitoring traffic over your broadband connection is easy if you've got an IT department armed with server logs, firewall records and what-have-you, but at home it's a different matter.

To help monitor and track usage we've had a look at three applications.

First up is DU Meter (above), which is not free but you get 30 days to test it out. Installation is easy enough and it lurks in your system tray quietly watching all your too-ings and fro-ings online. Hovering over the icon brings up what you're currently about, while a series of daily, weekly and monthly reports and estimated usage levels are readily accessible and can be ported to a spreadsheet for the truly nerdy. A single-user licence is $US19.95.

Down2Home offers a much easier interface -- a giant graph that can be set any way you chose (2D, 3D, bar, line), which is nice, but the graphics themselves aren't as slick as DU Meter's. Down2Home is freeware.

Oddly, both have been running on my machine all day, both starting automatically in the system tray, and both have different results for traffic flow: 24.72MB versus 10.53MB. Quite a difference, really.

Both have stopwatch settings, so you can time a particular download/upload for connection speed and size.

The third in the trial is the most complex: Tesseract. This freeware, whose maker is no longer upgrading it, not only monitors usage levels and connection speeds but also tells you what kind of traffic you're receiving. It includes a handy TCP/IP tweaker, which should help keep you up to full speed. There is also an interesting database of hostile events, which claims that so far today I've received four: one "snork" attack, a land attack, a large UDP datagram and a large ICMP datagram.

Fortunately it also explains just what these are, although I'm blowed if I know how to stop them. Go, firewall, go. Sadly, it doesn't do as good a job at reporting "just the facts" about usage -- it's trickier with Tesseract to work out your overall usage for the day/week/month than it is with DU Meter. The help file is non-existent, which I don't like.

Have a go yourself and tell us what you think.

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