What "Unusual Traffic" Google Errors Mean

What to Do When You See This Google Error

Road leading to the computer network
Road leading to the computer network. Getty Images/Hong Li

If you've seen either of the errors below while using Google, chances are you've been using it too quickly.

These errors surface when Google thinks that searches are being sent from your network automatically, and assumes it might be a robot or something malicious, like a virus, that's doing the searches and not a human.

However, it's important to realize what these errors do not mean. They aren't "proof" that Google is monitoring all your network's activity or even your Google searches, nor do they confirm there's a virus on your computer.

There is no long-term impact to your system or network from these errors.

Unusual traffic from your computer network
Our systems have detected unusual traffic from your computer network.

Why You See the Error

The error might occur if any of the following were happening:

  • You were searching too many things too quickly
  • You were connected to a VPN
  • Your network is using a shared public IP address such as a public proxy server, in which case Google may have triggered the message based on traffic from other people's devices
  • You were intentionally running an automated search tool
  • Multiple people on your network were searching at once

You should be fully aware that one of the following, harmful scenarios might be happening that's the cause of the error:

  • Someone else is using your network nefariously
  • A virus has overtaken the network or computer
  • An unknown background process is running that's sending unwanted data

    What to Do to Stop the Error

    Your decision for what to do next depends on what you were just doing. If you're sure that the errors was caused by you, then you can be assured that you can get through it with a simple step. However, if you're not quite positive what it was that caused the error, you should look into that before continuing with the Google search.

    • There should be a CAPTCHA code on the screen that you can fill out. Type the characters you see in the box to tell Google you're a real person and that you're not abusing their network.
    • Hold off on making more manual Google searches for a few minutes to widen the gap for another "unusual traffic" error to occur
    • Disconnect any VPN connection
    • Temporarily turn off search scrapers like Mozbar
    • If you suspect that there's a virus infection, do not hesitate to run a malware scan to get rid of it
    • Restart your computer or even just the web browser