There are several ways to analyze network traffic, but the best and most accurate method is to utilize a tool called a network analyzer. Among the simplest and most ubiquitous of these tools is a utility that is built into all flavors of Windows servers called Network Monitor. The Network Monitor utility gives detailed insight into traffic on a network segment and can detail broadcast traffic and specific packets transmitted to or from a machine. There are also several other third-party products such as Ethereal (free), as well as commercial analyzers such as Network General Fast Ethernet Sniffer, Cinco NetXray, AG Group EtherPeek, Novell LANalyzer for Windows, and Intel LANDesk Traffic Analyst among many others. It is important to note that when using a network analyzer to monitor your current network’s bandwith usage, that you sample data over the course of several days (or even weeks), and that you do so throughout different times of the day. Doing this will ensure that you make the most accurate assessment of your network’s bandwith requirements.
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