My internet connection status shows millions of packets when I’m not doing anything; do I have a virus?
Maybe, maybe not.
Okay, that wasn’t very helpful. But to be frank I can’t give you a
definite yes or no. But we can do a little investigation to determine if
what you’re seeing is expected or a sign of a real problem.
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I’ll start with the obvious: you are running anti-virus
software, right? And you do have the latest and greatest virus
signatures for it, right?
If the answer to either of those was “no”, then get thee to an
anti-virus tool immediately, get it up to date, and do that scan. 99% of
the time a good anti-virus tool will answer your “do I have a
virus” question properly.
If anti-virus tools say you’re clean then we start investigating.
First, understand what the numbers in your connection status mean. Have a
look at mine (from Start-> Settings-> Network Connections-> Local Area Network):
You’ll note that I have 2 million packets sent, and almost 4 million
received. That’s count of the number of packets since that
connection was made. You can see that the connection has been
connected for almost three days. So the longer you stay connected the
larger those numbers will get.
What’s more interesting is how quickly they’re changing as you
do nothing. Chances are they’ll grow even if you’re doing nothing
simply because you may be running some internet aware software – say an
instant messaging program, mail program, or something else. But if they
seem to be growing quickly there’s activity that might be worth
In a previous article, How can I tell
what internet activity is happening on my machine? I discussed several
tools and techniques to see what’s transpiring over your internet
connection. I’ll jump right to the tool mentioned at the end of that
article, Sysinternals’ TDIMon. Run it, log the
output to a file, and then after running it for a minute or so turn it off
and view the file in notepad. You should see lots of internet activity.
Much of it you’ll recognize as your own or perhaps as discussed in
that article, expected standard windows tools. But if there’s a program
there that you don’t recognize that seems to be doing a lot then it’s
probably time to understand just what it is. For that I’ve outlined
several techniques in What’s This
DLL? that will work with .EXE files as well. That research should help
you determine if you have a problem or not.