How To: Restore Classic Network Activity Indicator

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After upgrading to Windows 7 or Vista, you may miss the classic network activity indicator because the standard Microsoft has developed for this operating system is virtually lifeless and shows no activity. If you want to recover the classic ‘good old’ network activity animator from the Windows XP era, you can easily restore it with a small application like NetAnimate for Windows 7, Vista and 2008 and several other tools.

How To Restore the Classic Network Activity Indicator:

Using NetAnimate

NetAnimate is a very small application that monitors and displays your computer’s network traffic. The program runs as a taskbar icon and provides a visual indication of the network traffic of the selected network adapters. If you hover over the system tray icon, the total number of bytes sent and received by your network adapters is displayed.

Using Network Activity Indicator

The network activity indicator is after computer examples (another developer has a program of the same name) and it is a simple but very effective tool to insert an animated network activity indicator in the taskbar. The program is available in both portable and setup installer versions with 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

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The default indicator icon is a Windows XP style, but can be changed to a more recent Vista style by checking a box in the preferences window. You can also select a single indicator for all available interfaces or select up to three network adapters and display a separate indicator for each. The tooltip displays the amount of data sent and received, while the context menu provides useful network related shortcuts as well as an interface traffic counter and a statistics window.

Using GabNetStats

Although GabNetStats is similar to the other applications we have mentioned, it has a unique feature that deserves to be highlighted: Color change icons.

When you launch the application, the icon looks like the network activity indicator for Windows 7 and is very sensitive by default (for example, flashing). Click on the icon and you will get a small contextual graph of your bandwidth (just like NetTraffic, although you can’t resize the graph to see your loading and download rates longer). You will also find all the bandwidth of your session and a clear and poorly calculated average speed.

Open the application settings and you will see an option to “Specify bandwidth (multicolored icons)”. This is our favorite part of GabNetStats because it changes the color of the flashing parts of the icon from blue to yellow to red depending on the bandwidth you use. You can set this threshold in the Bandwidth Settings section of the Settings screen. It is not well described, so you will want to play with a few numbers until you find a good “low, medium, medium, medium, medium, medium, high” setting for your typical use and overall connection speed.

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