Nowadays, the internet is so omnipresent that we take it for granted as a basic necessity.
However, like everything else in life, it doesn’t come for free.
That’s why you should limit your usage to avoid unnecessary costs.
For example, you may want to limit your internet bandwidth to prevent certain users or devices from accessing your network easily.
You may wonder if there’s a way to limit bandwidth through your router.
Can You Limit Bandwidth On A Router?
Yes, routers allow you to set bandwidth limits via the QoS (Quality of Service) feature.
This feature enables you to specify bandwidth limits for each device connected to your Wi-Fi LAN.
You need to enter your router’s web panel, access the QoS menu, and set the limits for each device’s MAC address.
Some routers allow you to set these limitations for internet-using apps and programs, prioritizing each one based on their bandwidth requirements.
You can set these limitations via Windows 10 Wi-Fi settings if your router doesn’t have a QoS feature.
Why Should You Limit Bandwidth?
Internet plans you purchase from your ISP are limited in terms of bandwidth and speed.
Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred via a specific network connection, while speed determines how fast this data can be transferred.
Both of these are measured in Mbps and are closely related.
When several devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, the router has to divide the bandwidth allocated by the ISP among these devices.
The problem is even more serious since certain applications use more bandwidth than others.
If a user runs a network-hogging application, it will limit the bandwidth for others.
While the router assigns bandwidth automatically, you can set it manually to gain more control.
However, not all routers have this capability, and if they do, they may have different processes to activate the feature.
In addition to each device, you can allocate specific bandwidth to each internet-using application based on their requirements.
Doing so will optimize bandwidth usage and prevent programs from eating up bandwidth and limiting it for other applications.
How To Limit Bandwidth On A Router
As mentioned, most routers allow you to limit the bandwidth through different processes.
However, all of these processes require accessing the router’s web interface and changing the settings.
You need your router’s IP address to enter the interface, which is easy to find using the command prompt.
Type “command prompt” in the taskbar’s search box and press Enter.
Open the command prompt window and type in ipconfig.
You can find the router’s IP address under Default Gateway.
Copy the address and paste it into your preferred browser’s address bar.
Enter your username and password, which are both “admin” if you haven’t changed them before.
After entering the web interface, you’ll need to look for a feature labeled Quality of Service (QoS).
That’s the feature used by most routers to limit bandwidth for devices.
However, each router has different submenus and steps to enable the feature.
Some of these routers have a straightforward way to limit bandwidth by giving you a toggle that you can move and determine your desired bandwidth.
Others require you to specify the exact limit, so you should know the total bandwidth provided by your ISP.
Here’s a breakdown of these processes by the router brand:
After entering the router’s web panel, look for the DHCP option on the lefthand side menu and expand it.
Click on DHCP Clients List to see all the devices connected to your router.
Copy each device’s MAC address and IP address and go to Address Reservation.
Enter each device’s IP address and MAC address separately and change the Status to Enabled.
This way, you’ll set a fixed IP address for each device, through which you can change its bandwidth status.
Now, locate Bandwidth Control on the lefthand side menu and click on it.
Once in the new window, check the box next to Bandwidth Control to enable it.
To continue, you need to know the bandwidth you get from your ISP and enter it in the Egress and Ingress Bandwidth boxes with the upload and download bandwidth, respectively.
Note. If you don’t know your upload and download bandwidth, you can use an online speed test tool like Speedtest.
Under Rule Settings, hit the Add New button and fill the required fields.
Fill the IP Range with the device’s IP address and set Protocol to All.
The most important thing is to specify the amount of bandwidth you want to allocate to each device.
To change the bandwidth settings on a Netgear router, go to your router’s web interface, Netgear Genie.
You also need to know your device’s MAC address to set its bandwidth priority.
Go to the Advanced tab and click on Setup.
Follow the QoS Setup > Upstream QoS path and select the Setup QoS rule.
Here, the QoS priority rule list shows all the devices, apps, Ethernet ports, and online gaming devices and their bandwidth priorities.
Click the Add Priority Rule button and select MAC Address under the Priority Category dropdown menu.
You can see all the connected devices, their MAC addresses, and their bandwidth priorities under MAC Device List.
Here, you can change your devices’ bandwidth priorities under Priority by choosing Highest, High, Normal, and Low.
To save changes, click Apply and exit the web interface.
After logging into your router’s settings, go to the Applications & Gaming tab and select QoS.
Expand the QoS menu and select MAC Address under Upstream Bandwidth.
Fill in the Name, MAC Address, and Priority fields.
You can choose High and Low values for Priority and select Save Settings.
To limit the bandwidth on your D-Link router, you need to know the actual bandwidth offered by your ISP through the methods specified above.
Log in to your router and go to the Active Client tab.
Here, you can see the list of all devices connected to your router’s LAN with their IP and MAC addresses.
Click Refresh to update all the connected devices and their addresses.
You’ll need this information when you set the priorities.
Keep this tab open, right-click Setup, and open it in a new tab.
Click Local Network on the left and go to the DHCP Static IP Configuration section.
Copy the IP and MAC addresses from the other tab and paste them into the required fields.
Remove the colon signs in the MAC address and click Update.
Now, you can see the static IPs for each connected device.
Go to the Advanced tab and click Traffic Control on the left.
Select Add under QoS Rules and fill in the required fields.
The Source IP is your device’s IP address, the Up Floor is the upload speed limit, and the Down Floor is the lowest download speed limit you wish to set for the specific device.
Note that you should change the Mb values to kb.
Select maximum speeds for upload and download and enter them in Up Ceiling and Down Ceiling fields, which can be the same as values for Up and down floors.
Click Add to save changes.
6. Set Bandwidth Limits For Programs And Applications
Another great way to control internet usage via your router is to set bandwidth limits on applications.
However, this feature may not be available on all routers.
Even if the router has the QoS feature, it may only allow you to limit bandwidth based on MAC addresses.
But some routers like TP-Link or Linksys have more features.
When you access the QoS feature, you can set bandwidth limitations based on device or application.
You can check your router’s QoS settings and see what filters it offers.
It may allow you to prioritize bandwidth usage based on the app’s requirements.
It may even set these priorities intelligently without you noticing.
For example, it detects that video streaming and gaming use more bandwidth than messaging.
Therefore, it gives them a higher priority to optimize internet usage.
7. Set Bandwidth Limits On Windows
The QoS feature is a useful tool that limits bandwidth for your intended devices.
However, not all routers have this feature, which means you can only replace your router if you want to manage your connected devices’ internet usage.
Still, other ways can help you put a cap on a certain device’s data usage if you use a Windows PC.
Windows comes with a built-in tool, Metered Connection, that allows you to limit the bandwidth used by different internet-using applications.
This feature comes in handy when you use mobile data and connect to your smartphone via a hotspot.
You may also use it for any reason that needs a limited bandwidth, but you can’t do it with your router.
However, you should know that the metered connection has some limitations that can interfere with the normal operation of your system.
For example, with metered connection enabled, you won’t get automatic Windows updates released regularly to improve your system security and performance.
In addition, you won’t get updates from apps and peer-to-peer updates to share updates with other PCs.
You should also expect some apps to behave strangely when the metered connection is enabled.
For example, you may not get synced data if you have an app installed on different devices that work via regular syncing.
Enabling metered connection is straightforward.
Here’s how to do it:
Right-click the Start button and select Settings from the list.
Go to Network & Internet and select Wi-Fi.
You may also need to select Ethernet from the list if you have an Ethernet connection.
Click on your connection from the Wi-Fi or ethernet connections list and go to Metered Connection.
Move the toggle and turn the feature on.
Although Metered Connection is a useful tool that lets you put a cap on bandwidth usage, it’s not detailed, and you can’t control it the way you like.
You can have more granular control over internet usage via another Windows feature.
This feature enables you to set specific data usage limits on each application and prevent them from exceeding that limit.
It’ll warn you when you’re about to reach the set limit, but it doesn’t cut your internet connection.
In addition, it automatically enables metered connection.
To enable data limit, right-click the Wi-Fi icon on the bottom right corner of the taskbar and click Open Network & Internet Settings.
In the new window, click the Data Usage button to see a list of internet-using applications and their daily data usage amounts.
Click the Enter Limit button to set limits based on time periods and data usage.
After setting the limits, click Save and exit.
8. Third-Party Apps To Limit Bandwidth
If the above methods still can’t help you limit bandwidth the way you like, you can use third-party apps that give you more advanced features and additional tools to control data usage.
One of the best third-party apps is NetLimiter, which shows your applications’ bandwidth usage and limits them.
You can also block a certain application from connecting to the internet or set quotas for data usage.
It sets rules for when the data reaches its limit and determines what to do in such cases.
You may decide to block the app or take other actions.
It also enables you to block unwanted traffic via its easy-to-use interface.
This app isn’t free, but you can use its 28-day free trial.
Another great app is NetBalancer, which allows you to monitor all internet activity on your network in real-time.
It gives you a live graph that shows the internet usage of all connected devices and apps and allows you to set rules to customize the usage for all of these apps.
You can download it for free if you want to use it as a pure network monitoring tool.
However, you need to get the paid version to set rules and monitor more strictly.
9. Other Ways To Limit Internet Usage
If you want to limit internet access and usage for specific users, your router allows you to set different limitations depending on your place and purposes.
For example, if you own a business, you can control your employees’ access to the internet and block those who don’t require an internet connection to perform their tasks.
If you have a public place like a restaurant or café, you can give internet access to your customers for a limited period.
Below are the most common ways to limit internet access:
A. Block Internet Access
This feature is perfect for businesses that don’t want their employees to access the internet or parents who want to block their children’s access.
You can also set time limits and allow internet access in specific time frames.
You can enable this feature via the router’s web interface and find it under different settings based on the router’s brand.
For example, it may be accessible under Client IP filters, Parental controls, or Internet Access Policy.
If you can’t find the correct section, go online and search for your specific brand of router.
You can enter the intended devices’ IP addresses and set limits for them.
By choosing TCP or UDP, the interface allows you to block all internet traffic or specific types you select.
For example, if you don’t want your employees to watch YouTube videos, you can block the website’s URL.
B. Enable Guest Access
If you want to give your customers limited access for a specific period, you can set up a guest network through your router.
It’s separate from your main network, so you and your employees can connect to your main network and have your customers connect to the guest network.
You can even set up a network like this in your home Wi-Fi network and give it to your visitors.
Plus, one of the best uses of a guest network is to connect IoT devices.
It’s a security measure that prevents IoT devices from getting hacked if your main network gets attacked.
In such cases, the hackers can’t access your guest networks.
This way, you protect your devices, which are typically more vulnerable than computers.
Setting up a guest network, which is a separate access point on your router, is pretty straightforward.
After accessing the router’s web interface, go to Settings or Wi-Fi and look for a setting along the lines of Guest network or Allow guess access.
The interface asks you to select an SSID for the new network.
Depending on the router, you may need to provide more information, including the password and the encryption type (which should be WPA2).
These networks also allow you to set bandwidth limits and other restrictions to prevent your guests from using too much data.