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If your server runs a number of different services at once (WWW and FTP, for example), you may want to place hard restrictions on how much bandwidth each service can use.
You can set network bandwidth restrictions in a few different ways. For instance, some firewall or network proxying programs let you set bandwidth. But if these programs aren't already installed or needed, then often the only way to restrict network bandwidth is through the application itself. Many network applications don't offer such a feature, unfortunately.
NetLimiter is a standalone application that can set network speeds for applications, connections or groups of either. One feature that NetLimiter has that many other programs of its ilk don't have is you can specify "grants" of bandwidth, in which an application can have bandwidth "loaned out" from it to other applications if needed.
The program also operates as a firewall on an application-by-application or port-by-port basis, and you can apply rules and schedules to meter bandwidth, grant or revoke access to programs or ports and filter behaviors according to certain criteria (for instance, set download/upload limits for a specific external IP block).
After installing NetLimiter, you can configure the way programs deal with the network by assigning their behavior into one of two zones: the Local Zone (which is for intranets and LANs, for instance) and the Internet Zone (for WAN traffic). Setting up the two zones lets you gather statistics for each type of traffic separately and devise separate rules for their network behavior, too. For instance, it's possible to turn off bandwidth constraints for a particular application on your LAN but restrict its WAN traffic.
NetLimiter is currently in alpha testing for revision 2.0, which includes features such as charting and graphing, logging, remote administration, detailed information about connections (WHOIS, traceroute, etc.) and many other features not included in the 1.x editions of the program. NetLimiter, from Locktime Software, is free for 28 days and costs $29.95 for a single user/single system license or $799 for a site license (which is for an unlimited number of workstations).
Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- and please share your thoughts as well!
This was first published in June 2005