Software vs hardware agent network usages

This page tries to shed some light on the differences between software and hardware agents, and their bandwidth and data usage.

Note that MSP Sensors has the ability to adjust the communications speed of agents. For instance, in a rural area with a limited internet connection, the communication speed of the agent can be reduced to minimize data and bandwidth consumption while still ensuring valuable information is provided.

Software agent

The basic functions of the agent are Internet monitoring which include ongoing pings, constant hops update, outages,
optional speed testing.

The Internet monitoring functions remain identical but the Hardware agent adds more functionality.

Hardware agent

Monitors wired or wireless connections, including LTE, 4G, and 5G services
Acts as an access point if one is needed
Built-in DNS server for DNS privacy/redundancy
Connect standard USB camera video or image snapshots
Optional environment sensor
Provides secure, encrypted, remote access (RAS) to devices on the LAN


The specific usage is determined by the features being used and enabled. 

Below are some reports obtained from a local pfSense firewall, showing two agents running on the same LAN. One is a software agent and the other is a hardware agent. The report illustrates typical usage with occasional speed testing and minimal remote access.

Speed testing

When speed testing is enabled, this uses both bandwidth and data and the speed test can reach up to the maximum of the interface being used, typically, 100Mbps or 1Gbps. It is advisable to run speed tests for a certain duration but turn them off afterward, especially in locations with data caps, to optimize data usage.

Hardware agent stats from ntopng


Software agent stats from ntopng


As seen using bandwidthd, hardware agent


As seen using bandwidthd, software agent