Bandwidth refers to the capacity of a network to successfully transfer data. It is typically expressed in kilobits or megabits per second. This measurement indicates the amount of data the network can carry through every second and can also be regarded as the connection speed. As bandwidth increases, a user can upload and download bigger files at a faster rate.
Congestion can occur in a network. In a home scenario, one user could be using bandwidth intensive applications like BitTorrent which may consume the home network's maximum capacity disabling other users to even successfully check their email. In an office setting, a server or host computer could crash because of too many requests from client computers. In either case, bandwidth and speed need to be purposefully limited to maintain a usable Internet connection. Office network administrators as well as regular home users can do this by configuring the bandwidth settings of their router or server. They can also use third party applications such as traffic shaping software. An example of this kind of application is Traffic Shaper XP.
1. Set the upload and download speed.
One of the main functions of traffic shaping software is to set the maximum upload and download rate of computers in a network. For example in a home scenario that uses Traffic Shaper XP, this is done by running the application in one of the computers and opening the Add Rule Wizard. In the 'Traffic Type' window there is a 'Direction' field where you can choose either 'Download' or 'Upload'. There is also a 'Local Endpoint' field where you can enter specific IP addresses if you only wish to apply the limitation to particular computers in the network. There is also the option of simply applying the limitation to all the networked computers. In the 'Traffic Processing' window, you can enter the appropriate bits per second rate to set the speed limit. Speed limitations can also be set for particular user applications and this can go a long way to freeing up much needed network resources.
2. Distribute bandwidth equally.
Another way of managing network congestion is to distribute bandwidth equally among the computers in a network. Again using Traffic Shaper XP in a home network setting as an example, a user with administrative privileges can set the line speed limit in the 'Internet' tab found in the 'Options' window. This line speed limit is the set total amount of bandwidth in the network. An administrative user can then view allocation of this set total amount in the 'Distributed Servers' window. Here he will see what computers are active in the network, and how the bandwidth resource is evenly distributed among them. This application always distributes bandwidth evenly across active computers in the network. If three computers are logged on, then the bandwidth is divided into three. If two of the computers log out, then the one remaining enjoys the total amount. This way the bandwidth is always used with maximum efficiency.
Limiting Internet bandwidth and speed is also known as 'bandwidth throttling' and this is a term used by server administrators to refer to the set of procedures they apply on a server to manage its network resources.