Monitor all your network traffic from everything

How to Monitor Network Traffic

Monitoring network traffic is not only for large businesses; it is something smaller networks can do as well. Monitoring your small business or family network traffic has a lot of benefits and can reveal surprising results. It's best to have a basic understanding of networks and protocols before you begin to monitor your network traffic.


  1. Chose a network monitoring tool or tools.If you want a free tool, you can download the program Wireshark, formerly Ethereal. This is a popular and free program used by networking professionals around the world.
  2. Install the Wireshark and WinPcap.WinPcap is used to help capture network packets.
  3. Open Wireshark.Click the "Capture" menu, then click "Interfaces." A small window with all of your networking interfaces will appear. If you use any network traffic, you will start to see packets coming in.
  4. Click the "Start" button to start recording network traffic.
  5. Stop monitoring traffic.Go to the "Capture" menu again and then click "Stop." Stopping the traffic will allow you to analyze it better. However, you can let the program continue monitoring traffic while you go through the packets.
  6. Examine each packet's information.Each line represents a packet, and there are 6 columns that provide information about it.
    • The number column shows the order of the packet when you start recording network traffic. This is to provide you with number reference so you that you can easily identify particular packet.
    • The time is the time in seconds, up to 6 decimals, when the packet was received after you started to record network traffic.
    • The source includes the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the packet's origin.
    • The destination IP records where a particular packet is going.
    • The protocol the packet uses. The most common are TCP, UDP and HTTP.
    • Info includes what's going on with the packet, whether it's a continuation of traffic or an acknowledgment that a packet was received.
  7. Analyze the list of packets.You can monitor many different things with Wireshark.
    • Check to see if there are any unwanted packets being sent or received from your computer. These could include someone you don't want on the network or even a program that shouldn't be using network traffic.
    • Monitor how often a program uses your network. For example, how often does a Windows Update check for updates?
    • Find out what program is taking up all of your network traffic and bogging down the network.
  8. Keep in mind, WireShark is not going to catch all network traffic problems and has its limits..
    • You might also want to get network troubleshooting software for in-depth network monitoring and troubleshooting.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Is it possible to monitor network traffic and determine who is using the most bandwidth?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Short answer: No. What Wireshark fetches is only a copy of the traffic happening on *your* network's physical interface. The best solution to your problem would be to monitor the traffic from your router (this might involve installing a new system) or set up a Man-In-The-Middle attack and run a couple of scans.
  • Question
    How do I install this on Ubuntu?
    Community Answer
    On Ubuntu, you should first run "sudo apt-get update", then run "sudo apt-get install wireshark" to install Wireshark. If you can't capture packets after installing, try rebooting your computer.
  • Question
    It says that wireshark can not run on my PC. Any idea why?
    Community Answer
    There may be a problem in your software that may be a bug or virus.
Unanswered Questions
  • Using wireshark, can I know how much each IP in the network download or upload packets?
  • How can I monitor network traffic and Windows remote manager using IP address and port number?
  • Will this application monitor network traffic on just one computer or on all traffic on the network?
  • Is NS3 or Wireshark better?
Ask a Question
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  • Wikipedia has a good list and comparison of network troubleshooting software options.
  • If you want to become certified for Wireshark, check out the book: Wireshark Network Analysis: The Official Wireshark Certified Network Analyst Study Guide.


  • Monitoring network traffic can be confusing; it's best to have a basic understanding of networks and protocols before beginning to monitor traffic. You aren't going to become a professional network administrator right off the bat, and it's going to take some time to learn.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  1. "Why Wireshark Doesn't Always Work" |

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