Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How To Limit Your Roommate’s Bandwidth

And Keep More For Yourself.

Tip of the day: If you are in a house with multiple computers, and you want to restrict “the amount of Internet” those other machines use, you can use settings (aka “options”) in your router and give yourself #1 priority.

Today’s topic comes QoS from a question from a (younger) fella who lives with roommates, and they all “share” his connection.

Which is fine with him except for when their online activity slows down his surfing or online gaming.
So he wanted to know how to make sure he got “first dibs”. (Though I confess, he called it “more bandwidth”.)

You can think of today’s tip as a “tweak for better Internet speed”, if you’d like, though you’d be — technically– incorrect.

1) Open your browser and access the router’s Control Panel.

(See the first section, here:

2) Find the Advanced Settings tab for “QoS”.
refer to your make/model router’s documentation for the exact steps/menu choices — these are often listed on the side of your router’s control panel, or can be found on the manufacturer’s website.] (On a Linksys, that is under “Applications and Gaming”)

3) Give your PC’s MAC Address a rating of “Highest”
(To get the MAC, open a command prompt and enter “ipconfig /all”.)

* You might want to set other machines to “low”.

4) Save and exit.

That’s it, your done. Now your data packets will go first, and any other Internet user will have to wait for your request to finish.

[note: there are some other priority tweaks you can make here too. Click on the image to see large version, and note my arrows. And you can further “block” access by time, type, keywords, etc. My How To is here.]

[UPDATE: reader discussion of this topic has prompted me to write a further article. See, Restricting Roommates Internet Use – Continued.]

Today’s free download: EncryptOnClick is a very simple to use program that lets you securely encrypt and decrypt files.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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October 24, 2008 - Posted by | advice, computers, encrypting files, hardware, how to, routers, routers and WAPs, tweaks | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I’m definitely going to save that for later. Don’t have that problem… yet, but I’m sure I will eventually.


    Comment by gadzooks64 | October 24, 2008 | Reply

  2. If you do this, be sure your roommate doesn’t know what you are doing. Its a trivial thing to spoof a mac address.


    Comment by jgoto | October 31, 2008 | Reply

  3. jgoto–
    Well, if your roomie is Geeky enough to spoof their MAC..
    On the other hand what percentage of the world’s population think a “MAC” is type of hamburger, or a raincoat, and what % knows it’s the hardware address of a NIC..?

    The thing to do, then, is simply set yours to “high”, and password protect the router.


    Comment by techpaul | October 31, 2008 | Reply

  4. Asides from doing the priority thing, which I did and it works great…… there anyway to slow down the rest of the users when im NOT on the net? I ask this because I am on satellite and only get so many mega’s per day and im the one paying the $100 a month bill. So if I could slow them down to where watching videos is a real pain that would be great. I haven’t been able to find this info elsewhere so thanks if you can help me!


    Comment by rnoble | February 17, 2009 | Reply

    • rnoble–
      You could determine their machine’s MAC addresses, and create another rule that applied just to their machines, and block the video serving websites.. I guess. But no.. there really is no way that I am aware of to choke down their kbps to a certain number. Hardware is designed to deliver maximum performance.

      That’s my technician’s answer. But, there’s a larger issue here I think. As the bill payer, you are a “property owner”, and the others are “freeloaders”. If you cannot get them to pay their fair share.. you need to lay down some rules, and be prepared to enforce them.
      That’s my Dear Abbey answer.


      Comment by techpaul | February 17, 2009 | Reply

      • In case anyone here will read this dead article I must add-

        in response to the “technician” answer by techpaul

        yes it does exist…

        its called ip/mac bandwidth limit

        a good wireless n router with this built in is the enGenius esr9850 router

        specify any ip or mac address and set up and down limits


        Comment by Ash | November 4, 2010 | Reply

        • Ash,
          Thank you for the update. Nice to know there are units with this ability available to the consumer.

          Most readers coming to this article are looking for a way to do so on their existing WAP’s, though, and most of the time they really can’t.


          Comment by techpaul | November 4, 2010 | Reply

          • True,

            although dd-wrt (open source router firmware) can enable this function with a modest range of routers with the special paid edition. (20 Euros)


            Supported Routers on the relevant pages.


            Comment by Ash | November 4, 2010 | Reply

            • Ash,
              Another excellent referral, and again, thank you.

              I decided against mentioning dd-wrt at the time I wrote this article, as I felt that it was not suitable for the “average computer user” (the ” – for Everyone” in my title) as there is some risk of bricking the unit. And.. thinking that the more advanced users would find out about the firmware elsewhere.

              I have, since then, mentioned dd-wrt a few times (always with a caveat of caution: and saying “read the manual!”) and certainly don’t mind you mentioning it again.

              But I’m kind of an old-fashioned guy. I would make my roommate pay their fair share or cut them off cold. Might even tell them they have 30 days to find a new place. Tech is not a substitute for everything in life.. I would stand up for myself.


              Comment by techpaul | November 4, 2010 | Reply

              • Well we are at the same conclusion,

                Personally I just mac filter out offenders when they break the rules, and place their Facebook profile on the block list so they cant ask housemates (who are generally pissed off a the hog) to check their messages for them. They soon learn.

                Technology is not always a solution to a problem, but technological superiority gives you the higher ground (and the higher bandwidth). Especially in a world where social happiness depends on internet access.


                Comment by Ash | November 4, 2010 | Reply

                • Ash,
                  “social happiness depends on internet access”

                  Can I use that line?


                  Comment by techpaul | November 4, 2010 | Reply

  5. But I digress and diverge…

    you’d think this would be a standard feature in the day and age of parental controls and download limits?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Ash | November 4, 2010 | Reply

    • Ash,
      Well, yes. I for one can certainly see the logic in that.

      But experience has taught me that OEM’s will not introduce a cost w/o evidence that that feature will attract larger sales.

      For example – were the device you mentioned suddenly to fly off the shelves, because every parent/person with roommates/etc. wanted that feature, within 6 months every (WAP/router) manufacturer would have their version of bandwidth control — Standard.
      But it doesn’t. No one’s ever heard of it. So they don’t.

      (Hmmm… maybe I should have used the iPhone’s “touch screen” as my example..?)

      The manufacturer’s (try to) give us what we want. It’s up to us to speak up (with purchases).

      Maybe someone at Cisco will read this. And take the lead. (Could happen: they’re just down the road.. But then, years ago I suggested that they build AV/IDS/IPS into their consumer line, and they haven’t yet..)


      Comment by techpaul | November 4, 2010 | Reply

      • Well they need keep adding new features… n seems like its gonna be stickin around for a while and stuff like AV/IDS/IPS or VPN servers is way above the consumers head.

        What I really dont understand is why QoS doesn’t work out how many people are accessing the router and do equal shares of bandwidth on demand. Seems the most logical step to me.

        I mean with the amount of new features in OS’s and Apps and Internet Apps and new hardware form factors coming out the woodwork, mobiles on WLAN, the internet being the centre of all these, you’d assume they’d see this problem. It used to be a few computers and a console maybe that were online. Soon your Cooker, Your Mobile Phone, Your robot dog and your friend’s brother’s pet monkey’s milkshake shaker are going to be connected up.

        How is cloud computing going to work if your trying to open your documents but cant because your flatmates streaming movies? Real Time Bandwidth Management is the only thing I can think of.


        Comment by Ash | November 4, 2010 | Reply

        • Ash,
          You might find this hard to believe, but I agree with everything you said.

          Except, “you’d assume they’d see this problem“.
          Which, frankly, made me laugh. (You might have heard of, or remember, the “Y2K bug“. That was because (some) programmers didn’t see the year 2000 coming.. Rolling on the floor)
          (I am sure someone has seen the problem.. but they are not in management, or a “policy maker”.)

          Case in point: Since the beginning, Windows has displayed Format as a menu option on C:\, and it still does.
          Could that be an obvious problem? Easily fixed?
          Well, duh.

          I refer you to what I posted earlier this week: “tech has never had anything even resembling a Master Plan, and was up and toddling around before anyone thought.. “hey, maybe we need to implement some Standards..” Get it to market before the other guy. We’ll work the bugs out later. (Tech’s unofficial motto.)”

          BTW – nobody has said cloud computing is going to work. What they’ve said is “this looks like the future” and “there’s money to be made here”.
          (And that fact has nothing to do with why I think “cloud computing” is a truly and fundamentally bad idea. Security and Ownership are my two main plaints.)


          Comment by techpaul | November 5, 2010 | Reply

  6. wow i wasnt expecting a fix but this acually works ty so much now i can play games online without my mom and sister slowing me down with their movies online


    Comment by Anonymous | October 8, 2011 | Reply

    • Yes. You gotta keep your priorities straight, right?


      Comment by techpaul | October 8, 2011 | Reply

  7. and how do you get your “router control panel”?


    Comment by neilg21 | December 16, 2011 | Reply

    • neilg21,
      In the parenthesis, I referenced an article: the How To is there.

      Note: The IP for each router Make/Model is a bit different.. so you might just Google your router and add “control panel” or “login”.
      (Say, “Lynksys 54G control panel”, for example.)


      Comment by techpaul | December 16, 2011 | Reply

  8. Is this just for macs? because I cant seem to change my settings according to this article. Im having REALLLLY bad problems with my roommates completely “hogging” the internet all the time. I try to play xbox online and i cant because they are ALWAYS home streaming movies online upstairs on their laptop (which is a mac) I need help on this. I contacted century link and they said there’s no such thing as prioritizing internet connection. PLEASE HELP! I need my internet back!


    Comment by Kammie | March 21, 2012 | Reply

    • Kammie,
      There is no mention of any Apple products here. This describes changing a setting in your router (called QoS) which, only somewhat mollifies the problem you are experiencing.

      The only ‘solution’ is to put special software on your roommate’s computer (which most people do not sit still for) or block them altogether.. or buy more bandwidth (and/or a more powerful wireless router if you’re using WiFi – a wireless-N 300).


      Comment by techpaul | March 21, 2012 | Reply

  9. I have seen multiple sites describing how to “limit the bandwidth of other users” and I have to say the entire prospect seems incredibly narcissistic to me. My roomate bemoans how my internet use (watching online videos for medical school) gets in the way of his gaming. I’m sorry but in the larger picture gaming means diddly squat. What about my right to equal bandwidth if I pay half the price? Why do all of you techies seem so entitled to more bandwidth….especially if it is just to play dumb [deleted] video games????


    Comment by Anonymous | September 6, 2012 | Reply

    • Sir or Ms,
      Most of us are simply trying to helpfully supply the answer to a “frequently asked question”.

      .. and – in my “real life” experience – the person asking “How do I..” has a freeloading roommate and/or a bandwidth cap.

      .. and .. video games are not “dumb”; but you should have noted I did not rate them highest priority in the article.

      But to answer your “specific” question (about “rights”) — that is what you get by default: equal service (sorta)(unless an administrator goes in and reconfigures things, such as described in articles like these.)


      Comment by techpaul | September 6, 2012 | Reply

  10. I keep getting a “bandwidth value is out of range [64-100000]” popup when I go to save changes. Any insight? I followed the directions although I had to click enable at the top of the QoS screen (when I click it back to disable after I enter the values and save changes the pop-up doesn’t happen but it clears out my fields). Does it have to be set to manual or auto? Also I triple checked my values in command prompt and they should be correct. Any clarity would be appreciated.


    Comment by MissAcedia | February 24, 2015 | Reply

    • MissAcedia,
      My instructions do not mention setting bandwidth parameters…
      But the error message is, as I understand it, saying it is looking for a number between 64 and 100,000 in that field.

      Without seeing the screens, I can only presume one would want to set the highest possible bandwidth for their own device(s) and a significantly lower number for ‘guest’ devices.. I’m further guessing/presuming that 64 would be too low a value for modern web surfing, and 16800 would be punitive enough..

      For a more accurate answer, I would consult the manufacturer’s website/user forum, as specifically to your model# as possible. Post this question there.


      Comment by techpaul | February 24, 2015 | Reply

  11. I have a TP-LINK wireless access point model TL-WA7O1ND with 150mbps and i cannot access the Qos properties section in order to “tweak my speed” and I think it has to do with the fact that my roommate set up the router while I was out of the room and therefore has a higher priority or administrator status. Is there anyway for me to get around that or did he basically screw me? Or am I misinterpreting the directions? any help would be much appreciated, thank you.


    Comment by Ed | April 27, 2015 | Reply

    • Ed,
      Yes there are ways. First, I would talk with the roommate. Second, I would look up the Make/Model “defaults”, which would give you the Control Panel login (ie: Username/password) and also “Make/Model set QoS”, which will give you instructions for accessing the proper location in the router’s Control Panel. (Your roommate may have changed the password, but try.)

      But, keep in mind, Wireless QoS doesn’t greatly change performance (or “limit bandwith”) as consumer devices are designed to provide all users maximum performance. When one has a chronic issue with ‘sharing the Internet with roomies’, the best answer (always) is get your own. (When one computer is receiving less Mbps than another, it’s usually because that computer is farther away from the WAP, or has more walls in between, or both. So sometimes all that’s needed is moving the WAP to a more equidistant, and/or less obstructed, location.)


      Comment by techpaul | April 27, 2015 | Reply

  12. BennyBort,
    As long as he has physical access to the device, any change you make, he can un-make. So, no, I don’t have a (technical) solution for you.
    In instances where real conflict can occur, it’s probably cheapest to bring another Internet feed into the house — one for them and one for you.


    Comment by techpaul | October 24, 2015 | Reply

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