Options to monitor internet traffic

so my ISP has recently announced that they are going to start charging $1 for every GB that their customers go over their monthly limit. i have a 100GB/mo package and i figure that's sufficient for my habits which consist of approx 40GB of torrents, a bit of skyping, bit of browsing, etc. my ISP makes usage graphs available online, when i checked earlier last month to confirm i'm staying under my 100GB limit the graphs said over the past 12 months the highest i topped was 90GB, usually in the 70's. pretty much what i expected. but when i check their usage graphs again recently it says i've been using over 400GB for the past 3 months straight (as far back as the new graphs go). i call BS and find it very suspicious that my internet usage magically quadruples the same time my ISP wants to start charging for overusage, especially retro-active.
anyhoo, i want to somehow monitor my internet traffic usage independently but i'm not sure the best way to go about it.

my home network is the typical modem -> router -> LAN.
my router is a new netgear wndr3700, it has a traffic meter built in, but considering it's only forms of notification is cutting the internet off altogether or changing a green blinking LED to and orange blinking LED when the defined limit is reached, it's kinda useless. i just got it a couple months ago too, so buying a new router with better traffic monitoring isn't an option.

i could put a net meter on each and every computer i have, then sum up their usage stats, but that would be a pain in the ass and wouldn't take my PS3 or WDTV media player into account, as little as they're used online.

my prefered solution is to use an old laptop i hardly touch anymore and set it up as a gateway and share the internet connection or make it a proxy server. that way i could set up a net meter on just the one NIC on that to track my internet usage. modem -> laptop -> router -> LAN. the problem i have hear is forwarding ports from one NIC to the other so they can then get ditributed by the router, never tried this before, not sure how to go about it. right now it has XP home, but i can put 7 on it if that's better to work with.

if anyone can walk me thru how to get thsi setup i'd be more than grateful.
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More about options monitor internet traffic
  1. I can't walk you through it directly, but there are several ways to do this using linux. If I had a cheap box with two lan connections, I'd put a bridge between the modem and the rotuer. A bridge doesn't have an IP address, and can pass and log each packet through it unmodified. In that configuration it will be invisible to the modem and router, but can watch the traffic passing through.

    What you need to be googling is a network sniffer.

    After you get the bridge setup, then you can configure RRD tool and a method of accessing the info.

    Windows just isn't able to replicate that method.

    Using a proxy inside the network to monitor the traffic would only monitor websites, not skype, or other traffic not coming from the browser.
  2. interesting, i hadn't thought of bridging two NIC's, thanks someone19.
    so you say that a bridged network passes traffic through unmodified, does that mean it won't mess anything up like the port forwarding on my router? i'll give that a shot tonight if i have time. thanks again.
  3. in line devices "monitor/inspect" what goes across the wire. it will not modify what it sees.. you could setup a web filter or firewall in line and have the device block/reject web sites / packets. such as the software from untangle.com but I am not sure if it has a log to tell you how much total bandwidth you used.
  4. The key to the bridge is it doesn't have an IP address. At all. For network access to the data you'd actually need another nic in the same computer to have an IP on the LAN and access stuff that way. Its actually oldschool, but it works marvelously. A good firewall is setup the same way.
  5. I heard ProteMac Meter is a good app for monitoring network traffic, anybody used this program?
  6. a bridged connection works wonderfully, but i'm having a difficult time finding a monitoring software that can monitor such a connection.

    i've tried several bandwidth/usage meters, but none work on a bridged connection :(
    so close yet so far...
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