Help identifying what is draining my bandwidth

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Crimmo

Occasional Visitor
I have a pretty fast service, around 350MB - 500MB. The problem is stability, with streaming lagging and I have had my USP out to visit a few times and they can not solve the issue. The most recent technician said that we are downloading over 400mg per week and some device is draining the bandwidth but he couldn't say which one. We have 20 devices connected and it is not possible to see individual stats on the routers hub webpage nor is it practical to turn everything off and try, by a process of elimination, to work out which is the culprit. I am thinking of turning the ISP's device into a modem only and then connecting a more powerful router such as the number 1 ranked R7800. Can people tell me if their hub allows you to measure the bandwidth used by individual devices connected through it? If not, anyone recommend a router that does? Thanks
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
@Crimmo - Does your ISP cap your data usage per month, or is it unlimited? I would suspect a 350+Mb/s internet line to be unlimited. If so, why care about how much bandwidth a device is downloading at all? Unless, of course, it's saturating your internet line when doing do, and effecting behavior for all other hosts? In that case, getting a router that offers SQM to prevent bufferbloat and and deliver connection fairness to all hosts, all the time, would be paramount, even potentially more so than the ability to track, filter and/or limit per-host bandwidth -- provided, again, that you don't have a monthly data cap. If you're really just trying to address that, then such firmware as Merlin for consumer-class Broadcom-based Asus routers or a community-grade firewall distro such as Untangle would accomplish that rather easily.

Regarding your data usage, I can't tell what "400mg" means: is that 400MB (Megabytes)? Or 400GB (Gigabytes)? If it's 400MB, that's very little data (only 10 seconds worth of full download saturation at your internet's max speed). If it's 400GB, then you may have some reason for concern, especially if you do have a monthly data cap.

The solution you choose really depends on what you priority(ies) is/are, and your skill set.

If you're primarily looking for just bandwidth tracking/limiting alone, then as I said, Merlin on an Asus all-in-one, such as an RT-AX88U or the less-expensive RT-AX58U, would probably be the easiest move. Alternatively, the latest version of Tomato firmware, FreshTomato, offers decent bandwidth monitoring as well, as is available for a lot of Broadcom-based consumer routers. Beyond those, if you hunger for more granularity and/or business-class feature set, Untangle Home Pro ($50/year) on x86 hardware (like a Protectli Vault) would give you way more CPU firepower to run basically anything you want in-software at any speed, plus a lot more granular ability to track and limit bandwidth consumption per host, all from the web GUI.

If it turns out bufferbloat is more your issue than anything else, you might want to look into running OpenWRT on a Qaulcomm based all-in-one, like the R7800. OpenWRT and Qualcomm will do a potentially better job at de-bloating than the Broadcom-based hardware and firmwares, due to better kernel driver integration and more qdisc configurability. By the way, the R7800 is not the most powerful all-in-one router any more; it's been surpassed in both CPU power and wifi range by several 802.11ax ("Wifi 6") models, the Asus RT-AX88U being one of them; it's still a top choice for OpenWRT, though). You could also look into Ubiquiti EdgeRouter, which offers "Smart Queue" QoS (HTB + fq_codel) but can also be made to run CAKE, just like OpenWRT.

Hope that helps and wasn't too confusing. Any questions, feel free.
 
Last edited:

ATLga

Senior Member
I have a pretty fast service, around 350MB - 500MB. The problem is stability, with streaming lagging and I have had my USP out to visit a few times and they can not solve the issue. The most recent technician said that we are downloading over 400mg per week and some device is draining the bandwidth but he couldn't say which one. We have 20 devices connected and it is not possible to see individual stats on the routers hub webpage nor is it practical to turn everything off and try, by a process of elimination, to work out which is the culprit. I am thinking of turning the ISP's device into a modem only and then connecting a more powerful router such as the number 1 ranked R7800. Can people tell me if their hub allows you to measure the bandwidth used by individual devices connected through it? If not, anyone recommend a router that does? Thanks
I’d take what a technician told me with a large grain of salt. 400GB per week is nothing if you are streaming tv.
You say that’s the issue - Streaming. What are you streaming with and how is it connected to the internet (WiFi or Ethernet). What speeds do you get when you test on a laptop or desktop computer. Roku devices have a built in speed test, if using that what does it say for speed and how it’s connected. Netflix has a built in speed test...same question.
 

Crimmo

Occasional Visitor
Wow, what a comprehensive reply, I am very grateful and apologies for the untechnical way I have probably phrased different bits:

Does your ISP cap your data usage per month, or is it unlimited? Unlimited effectively, I think they have a fair usage quota.

I would suspect a 350+Mb/s internet line to be unlimited. If so, why care about how much bandwidth a device is downloading at all?
We watch all our TV through streaming and not just things like Netflix but our regular TV channels and they constantly hang or lag. When I check download speeds it seems they are fine so I started to notice that it is not speed per see but the stability of the speed. That is what I got my ISP to check and at first they said there may be a problem with the cable coming into the house but they ultimately ruled that out. They then said they felt the issue was the sheer volume going through, see below.

Unless, of course, it's saturating your internet line when doing do, and effecting behavior for all other hosts? In that case, getting a router that offers SQM to prevent bufferbloat and and deliver connection fairness to all hosts, all the time, would be paramount, even potentially more so than the ability to track, filter and/or limit per-host bandwidth -- provided, again, that you don't have a monthly data cap. If you're really just trying to address that, then such firmware as Merlin for consumer-class Broadcom-based Asus routers or a community-grade firewall distro such as Untangle would accomplish that rather easily.
I just did this bufferboat test and scored a D, so it seems you are spot on, the speed is not really the issue but how the ISP's router is handling it. That link you sent suggests a few routers to solve the problem:
It also speaks about updating the firmware of the router but I suspect that may be beyond my ability unless there are 'baby steps'.

Regarding your data usage, I can't tell what "400mg" means: is that 400MB (Megabytes)? Or 400GB (Gigabytes)? If it's 400MB, that's very little data (only 10 seconds worth of full download saturation at your internet's max speed). If it's 400GB, then you may have some reason for concern, especially if you do have a monthly data cap.
You are spot on, apologies that was a typo it is 400GB per week

The solution you choose really depends on what you priority(ies) is/are, and your skill set.

If you're primarily looking for just bandwidth tracking/limiting alone, then as I said, Merlin on an Asus all-in-one, such as an RT-AX88U or the less-expensive RT-AX58U, would probably be the easiest move. Alternatively, the latest version of Tomato firmware, FreshTomato, offers decent bandwidth monitoring as well, as is available for a lot of Broadcom-based consumer routers. Beyond those, if you hunger for more granularity and/or business-class feature set, Untangle Home Pro ($50/year) on x86 hardware (like a Protectli Vault) would give you way more CPU firepower to run basically anything you want in-software at any speed, plus a lot more granular ability to track and limit bandwidth consumption per host, all from the web GUI.
From what you are saying it is probably less now about monitoring devices but instead putting in a system that moves me beyond the standard ISP hardware/software and allows me take full advantage of the speeds. One interesting side note, which the ISP could never explain, is that I get faster wireless speeds than wired speeds, not sure if that is suggestive of anything. We have tried with different CAT ethernet cables so have ruled that out as an issue.

If it turns out bufferbloat is more your issue than anything else, you might want to look into running OpenWRT on a Qaulcomm based all-in-one, like the R7800. OpenWRT and Qualcomm will do a potentially better job at de-bloating than the Broadcom-based hardware and firmwares, due to better kernel driver integration and more qdisc configurability. By the way, the R7800 is not the most powerful all-in-one router any more; it's been surpassed in both CPU power and wifi range by several 802.11ax ("Wifi 6") models, the Asus RT-AX88U being one of them; it's still a top choice for OpenWRT, though). You could also look into Ubiquiti EdgeRouter, which offers "Smart Queue" QoS (HTB + fq_codel) but can also be made to run CAKE, just like OpenWRT.
So it seems this is where I need to be looking at for a solution, of the 3 or 4 you mention which is best out of the box with the least configuration needed and does that then really reduce its ability. If it does then I am happy to learn what I need to do.

Hope that helps and wasn't too confusing. Any questions, feel free.
That really helps, you have been so generous with your time. Thanks a million.
 

Crimmo

Occasional Visitor
I’d take what a technician told me with a large grain of salt. 400GB per week is nothing if you are streaming tv.
You say that’s the issue - Streaming. What are you streaming with and how is it connected to the internet (WiFi or Ethernet). What speeds do you get when you test on a laptop or desktop computer. Roku devices have a built in speed test, if using that what does it say for speed and how it’s connected. Netflix has a built in speed test...same question.
That's interesting re the 400GB. I connect via wifi, believe it or not the speeds are faster than wired - something the ISP says is not possible but when their technicians come to the house they can neither explain or fix! I use the Netflix Fast.com for speed test and it varies but on average around 100MB-350MB, (MacBook at 120 right now) the option I pay for is for speeds up to 500MB. I use an IPTV service for my TV and this is one of the things that buffers a good bit but so does Disney+, Netflix etc. although not as much. Thanks for responding.
 

ATLga

Senior Member
That's interesting re the 400GB. I connect via wifi, believe it or not the speeds are faster than wired - something the ISP says is not possible but when their technicians come to the house they can neither explain or fix! I use the Netflix Fast.com for speed test and it varies but on average around 100MB-350MB, (MacBook at 120 right now) the option I pay for is for speeds up to 500MB. I use an IPTV service for my TV and this is one of the things that buffers a good bit but so does Disney+, Netflix etc. although not as much. Thanks for responding.
IPTV service, so is that possibly AT&T? It gets a little hairy using ISP equipment in bridge mode for IPTV services with a stand alone router. It can be done and you'll find many here that do it and can help you if you go that route. Any idea if your streaming is using 5 or 2.4 on the wifi. 5 will give you a much better connection for doing that than the 2.4 will. Any idea what wifi channels it is using right now and if they are on auto or fixed?
 

Crimmo

Occasional Visitor
I am using 5 for the wifi and I believe it is fixed. Would you suggest a better router etc. or making some settings changes to the existing set-up? Many thanks
 

ATLga

Senior Member
I am using 5 for the wifi and I believe it is fixed. Would you suggest a better router etc. or making some settings changes to the existing set-up? Many thanks
Hard to say without definitive answers to my questions. I'll just say this without knowing all of your details and setup.
I've found one SSID works best in 99% of cases while letting the clients decide where to roam to. I don't use auto channels and instead set them fixed; 2.4 I have on 11 and 5.0 I have on 157. No DFS channels either. The goal is to keep the wifi steady and stable and keeping it from changing channels and or dodging DFS will do that. However, I don't know your IPTV setup or company and changing any of these things may cause issues in other rooms for tvs connecting. So if you can provide other details that may help those on here that are trying to help you out... :)
 

Crimmo

Occasional Visitor
Screenshot 2020-11-01 at 15.13.09.png


Not sure if this helps explain better
 

Crimmo

Occasional Visitor
Not sure if it's me, but I see nothing in this screenshot.
What I'd really like to know is the wifi settings, channels, etc.
I can see it but I can tell you what it says:
2.4GHz enabled
Wireless mode 802.11b/g/n mixed
Channel Auto 11
Channel width 20Mhz

5GHz enabled
Wireless mode 802.11 a/n/ac mixed
Channel Auto 36
Channel width 20/40/80 Mhz


Smart Wifi
Enable channel optimization

Cheers
 

ATLga

Senior Member
Ok. That looks good, but the smart wifi /channel optimization sounds like Auto to me. Not sure. If it is then it could be changing channels and that may be the source of your issue while watching tv.

I know from experience that my Roku's HATE being interrupted while streaming. I live in Midtown Atlanta with a lot of wifi in the air hahaha. Having my router on auto makes it constantly scan and change channels. The Roku's will stop, pause, stutter if they are being used when it happens. Setting my wifi channels to something "fixed" stopped that.

You may look for a setting that turns off those two things and see if you are then able to adjust the channels. You could even use what it's using now, just disable the auto part of it and try it and see how it behaves.
 

Crimmo

Occasional Visitor
Ok. That looks good, but the smart wifi /channel optimization sounds like Auto to me. Not sure. If it is then it could be changing channels and that may be the source of your issue while watching tv.

I know from experience that my Roku's HATE being interrupted while streaming. I live in Midtown Atlanta with a lot of wifi in the air hahaha. Having my router on auto makes it constantly scan and change channels. The Roku's will stop, pause, stutter if they are being used when it happens. Setting my wifi channels to something "fixed" stopped that.

You may look for a setting that turns off those two things and see if you are then able to adjust the channels. You could even use what it's using now, just disable the auto part of it and try it and see how it behaves.
Great advice and I will try that. Just to be clear, I change my channels for both 2.4 and 5 to 'manual' instead of 'auto' and then I switch off the Smart WiFi Channel Optimization? If I go manual I note we have the same 2.4 channel i.e. 11 but different 5 channels, 36 and 157. I don't have 157 option, my first option is the 36 and then about 10 more up to 128. How important is it to select this channel? Thanks again.
 

ATLga

Senior Member
Great advice and I will try that. Just to be clear, I change my channels for both 2.4 and 5 to 'manual' instead of 'auto' and then I switch off the Smart WiFi Channel Optimization? If I go manual I note we have the same 2.4 channel i.e. 11 but different 5 channels, 36 and 157. I don't have 157 option, my first option is the 36 and then about 10 more up to 128. How important is it to select this channel? Thanks again.
Different regions offer up different channels. I'm US and 157 is an option available to me and not that important. I'd just stick to 36 and see how it works for you.
Is there anything in particular that is an issue for you while streaming on the fire stick? Netflix, Youtube TV, Hulu, Prime, etc., or nothing in particular.
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
I wonder if restricting 2.4 to n-only and 5.0 to n/ac is possible and might help.

OE
 

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