Identifying Wi-Fi Hogs

I'm having increasing problems with poor network performance at public wi-fi hotspots.

I'm particularly susceptible to bandwidth problems, because I do a lot of interactive work on the net. Most people use the net in batch mode: fetch a web page, download an email, and the like. I'm often logged into a remote server, transmitting small packets of information a keystroke at a time.

I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of times I observe network performance problems, that's because somebody is being a bandwidth hog. They may be doing something like connecting to a streaming music server, which uses a continual and significant part of the network bandwidth.

I have no hard data to support or disprove my theory. So, this afternoon, I did a little research. What I want is a network analysis tool that puts my wireless interface into promiscuous mode (that's a mode where an application can see what everybody is doing on the network), and then accumulates network usage by the various devices on the net.

I've tested a handful of tools. I think the one that may be best suited to my purpose is iftop. As the author explains:

iftop does for network usage what top(1) does for CPU usage. It listens to network traffic on a named interface and displays a table of current bandwidth usage by pairs of hosts. Handy for answering the question "why is our ADSL link so slow?".

I'll be curious to see whether bandwidth hogging behavior is as prevalent as I fear it may be.


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Not surprised

It'd be interesting to check out, but I'd guess that many of those who are bandwidth hogs, don't realize that they're doing it. I suspect that most people take for granted the amount of bandwidth used by things like streaming music and YouTube. They just don't think about it. I'm sure that my sister has no idea which web site takes up more bandwidth than another site. She's got a cable modem at home and a relatively new PC and just expects that sort of thing to work.