For the longest time, I had a network icon running in the notification area. Then when Vista arrived, I used variations on the Network Monitor gadget. As good as it was to be able to see any network traffic in action, a really annoying problem was the time it took for the gadget to appear at boot up.
At first, I thought that it might be the way that it interacted with WinPatrol, but knocking out WinPatrol made no difference. There was one other problem with the Network Monitor gadget. It didn’t give any running totals which is a useful feature when having to subscribe to capped Internet.
To be honest, I never got any unauthorised network traffic, which was the whole point of running a visual check.
So now I have this.. Networx.. http://www.softperfect.com/products/networx/.
It has more than a few useful features behind the ‘right click’, and it can give a running total of what goes through the router, not just the machine on which it is installed. However, your router will need to be SNMP enabled which for a long time was considered an open door for hackers. The workaround for this is to install Networx on all computers and then set each one to sync with all others in your network.