Please help me with this, I'm losing my damn mind

Ok, here’s the thing: it’s my girlfriend’s computer. She’s connected to our wireless network, but the signal isn’t that great because of the layout of our apartment and/or the walls, which are apparently made of lead. But that’s not the problem, I don’t think, because she usually can pick up a decent signal, at least, thanks to our high-gain antenna.

But she can almost never actually get anything out to the internet. And this is happening: her computer is sending out a lot of data, when she’s not doing anything. I’m no noob, I know what you’re thinking: she has a virus. Well, AVG can’t find anything, and yes the database is current. Neither can Spybot, also freshly updated. If I disable and then reenable her network connection, I can usually access the internet for anywhere from thirty seconds to a few minutes before it slows down to a crawl or dies outright.

I’ve reinstalled everything I can think of, including Windows, and reformatted the hard drive, after which it seemed better for a little while (maybe), but the problem came back. What’s going on here? What’s making it not work? What’s causing it to send out the data? I’m at the end of my rope here, guys. Someone please know something about this.

Try swapping the wireless card with a known good one?

That’s not a bad idea, though this card did work in the past. I think I’ll see if I can do that.

Can you do a netstat -a at a cmd prompt and see if you have a connection established with any funky web sites or ports?
Other than that, maybe someone else is piggy backing on your network and is uploading some torrents or something. Sounds kinda odd though seeing you just reset the girlfriends connection and not the router and it will be fine for a bit.

The thing I’d try first would be checking the netstat thing and then trying to hardwire her computer to the router to test out if it’s the network card dying. Just move her computer next to the router to check it real quick. If the network connections wonky, the card will try to re-request data it missed and might cause the higher activity problem you have too. Is the high activity just the router light blinking alot, or when you ctrl-alt-del and go to the network tab is the utiliazation a high %?

  • Netstat doesn’t seem to show any external connections at all… just a number of ports in “listening” state, but with the foreign address set to the name of the computer itself. EDIT: yeah I’ve just checked on my own computer and hers isn’t showing any connections that aren’t also shown on mine.

  • The high activity is coming from the network connection properties, where it shows how many bytes have been sent and received for the duration of the connection. The bytes out are always way, way ahead of the bytes in.

  • This problem is not affecting the other computers on the network, either wired or wireless.

  • I haven’t yet plugged her computer into the router because it’s physically across the apartment and I lack outlets over here, so I’m just trying to find the least painful way.

I’d have to go with the network card then too. Either signal issues or the card dying. If the card isn’t getting data back it’s asked for, it’ll keep sending out bytes requesting the ones it missed. Hence more out than in. Could be the card or could be a new source of interference messing with the wireless signal. You could try setting it to a different wireless channel for fun, swapping it with your wireless card real quick, or just pack her computer up and move it next to the router to test if that fails.

That’s given me a surprising amount of peace of mind. I’ll try swapping her card with my roomate’s (I don’t have a wireless card) as soon as I get a chance and hope that that’s it.

Are you running SP2 and have the firewall on? If you do, it should alert you to anything trying to send out. If you do, and it’s still sending, it could be Windows downloading updates, which would be one of the few things it lets through automatically. Not that it’s a fool-proof firewall by any means, but it’s good enough to alert you when something suspicious is trying to talk out. You can also look in the list of exceptions to see what IS allowed to talk out.


My wife had this grief. Turned out it was Windows Firewall doing something weird.

I had a similar situation, thought it was me dell laptop. It turned out to be the router. I don’t know what was wrong with it, but getting a new router fixed it.

Borrow one from a friend, see what happens.