What Is a Google “Unusual Traffic” Error and How to Fix It

Google uses several techniques to prevent unnecessary traffic from abusing its search engine. One technique that can cause problems is the Google “unusual traffic” message that you might see, for instance, if you’ve performed too many searches in a short space of time. There are other reasons for this message to appear, however.

If this particular Google error is preventing you from using the Google search engine effectively, you can troubleshoot the issue by following the steps below.

What Causes a Google Unusual Traffic Error?

If you see a Google unusual traffic error message, it’s usually a sign that Google suspects your web traffic is problematic in some way. Unusual traffic, in this instance, typically means automated traffic or malicious traffic, caused by hackers, bots, malware unnecessary search requests.

It can also be caused by searches that mark you out as “unusual” in some way, such as regular or repeated use of advanced search operators.

It isn’t usually an error message you need to worry about, as it can usually be resolved with a few simple fixes. For instance, if you’re using a public computer, you may find that the internet connection (and outgoing IP address) you’re using is shared by too many devices, causing Google to limit the searches being made.

It can also be caused by a virtual private network (VPN), where web traffic routed through VPN servers causes Google to rate-limit the number of searches being made. 

You may also need to check for possible malware. If your PC is infected, a hacker could be using your internet connection to send significant traffic to Google’s search engine, which Google will block with a “detected unusual traffic” message. If this occurs, you’ll need to scan for malware urgently.

The problem could also be down to an application or script you’re running yourself. If you’re trying to scrape Google search results too quickly, for instance, Google will block the searches after a short period of time.

Successfully Perform the CAPTCHA Test

If Google is blocking your search traffic without a good cause (as far as you’re aware), you can usually bypass it by performing the CAPTCHA test. CAPTCHA is a system designed to limit non-human web traffic (such as automated scraping bots) by introducing a test that “only” humans using a typical web browser can solve.

While the CAPTCHA system isn’t as foolproof as it used to be, Google still continues to use it as a way to limit unusual web traffic. If your Google searches are limited in some way, select the I’m not a robot checkbox in the CAPTCHA box and perform the test.

The test usually involves identifying images based on a set scenario by selecting them (for instance, picking all of the images with a visible tree). There is also an option for the visually impaired to hear the captcha read to them.

Once you’re chosen the correct images, selecting the Verify button should allow you to perform the search. However, if you fail the test, or if Google continues to suspect your traffic is automated, you’ll need to repeat the process.

If you continue to have issues, consider signing in with your Google account or switch to another web browser (such as Google Chrome). This is a good way to prove to Google’s servers that you’re a legitimate search user, reducing the likelihood that your searches will be rate limited in future.

Temporarily Limit Your Searches (and Use Fewer Search Operators)

If you’re making a lot of searches in a short space of time, especially if you’ve used an automated tool (such as a scraping bot) to make them, you may need to temporarily limit your searches. 

You may need to do this for an hour or two, but it may take 24 hours for any rate limiting on your IP address to be lifted. You may also need to limit the number of advanced Google search operators that you’re using in searches.

This is because search operators (such as site:online-tech-tips.com) are an increasing sign of automated searches. Most Google search users don’t use operators for searches, so Google can easily filter these out for traffic. If you do need to use operators, use them sparingly to lower the chance of being rate limited.

Disconnect from a VPN (or Switch Internet Connections)

A virtual private network (or VPN) is often used to hide your true IP address, giving you extra privacy online. If you’re connected to a VPN, however, you may find that the chances of seeing a Google unusual traffic error message increase.

A VPN provider routes your traffic through thousands of servers at its disposal, but it also routes traffic from other VPN subscribers through the same servers. Much like using a public internet connection (such as a shared PC or public WiFi), this can cause a significant number of shared Google queries on the same IP address.

This will cause Google to block or limit the searches made through that IP address. Google may also identify certain IP ranges (such as those used by VPNs) as at-risk sources, rate-limiting them. 

The best way to overcome these issues is to disconnect from any VPN connection you’re using to make searches. If this doesn’t work, you may need to consider switching to another internet connection (such as a mobile data connection) to bypass the issue.

Check for Malware

If you’re unsure as to the cause of a Google unusual traffic message, it could point to a malware infection on your PC or local network. This malware could use your internet connection to make a significant number of search queries to scrape data or otherwise perform a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Google itself.

While you could use third-party antivirus or anti-malware software, it isn’t strictly necessary. Windows 10 includes a built-in security solution called Microsoft Defender that you can use to check for (and remove) possible malware infections automatically.

  1. To open Microsoft Defender, right-click the Start menu and select the Settings option.
  1. In the Windows Settings menu, select Update & Security > Windows Security > Open Windows Security.
  1. Windows will open the Security menu in a new window. Select Virus & threat protection from the menu, then select Check for updates to make sure your antivirus database is up-to-date. 
  1. Once the Microsoft Defender antivirus database is updated, select Scan options, listed underneath the Current threats category.
  1. Select the Microsoft Defender Offline Scan option, then select the Scan now button. 

Windows will restart your PC, performing a boot-level scan of your system drive to check for any malware infection. Follow any additional on-screen instructions to remove any stubborn malware it detects. 

You may need to repeat these steps on all other devices connected to your local network and sharing the same public IP address.

Using Google Effectively

A Google unusual traffic error message isn’t something to worry about, but if you’re seeing it regularly, you may need to rethink your search habits. Too many searches (or searches with advanced search operators) in a short period will cause it, but so can a malware infection, so be sure to check your network regularly for infections.

If you’re worried about the data Google is collecting on you, you might want to download your personal data to check. If you’re unhappy, you can always switch to a privacy-focused search engine like DuckDuckGo to keep your searches hidden or use certain browser tools to limit the amount of data you share online.

How to Make a Google Form: A Complete Guide

Google Forms is an app with a lot to recommend it. It’s simple to use, easy to share, and it’s got a clean interface. Chief among its best features is that Google Forms is free.

Anyone with a Google account can use Google Forms. It’s just an excellent tool for creating surveys, quizzes, and virtually any other kind of form you can dream up. 

In this article we’ll show you how to make a Google Form in just a few simple steps.

1. Begin Creating a Google Form

First, navigate to forms.google.com and login if prompted. Now it’s time to decide what kind of form you want to make. You can choose from among the templates in the template gallery, start a new form from scratch, or duplicate a form you’ve made in the past. 

Make a Quiz

If you’re writing a quiz, you can begin by selecting a quiz template or a Blank Quiz. Alternatively, at any time you can choose to make your form a quiz by selecting Settings and then on the Quizzes tab, select the toggle button to Make this a quiz. Making your form a quiz allows you to assign point values to each question. Google Forms will automatically grade respondents’ answers. 

Making your form a quiz also opens up some other options, like when to tell the respondent how they performed on the quiz. You can “release” the grade after each question or later, after you’ve manually reviewed their answers. 

You can also choose whether respondents can see missed questions, correct questions, and/or point values.

Next, give your form a title and, if you wish, a description.  

2. Adding a Question or Element

Google Forms are primarily made up of questions, but there are additional elements you can add, too, such as images, videos, and sections. 

Importing Questions and Elements

If you’ve created a Google Form in the past that has questions or elements you want to use in your new form, you can import them. 

Select the Import icon and then select the form containing questions you want to import and choose Select. Next, in the Import questions panel, check the box next to every question or element you want to import. Finally, select the Import questions button.

Question Types

Add a question manually by selecting the Add question icon. 

Type the question and, if you want, select the Insert image icon to the right of the question. Images can come from a variety of sources including your computer, your camera, your Google Photos, your Google Drive, or by doing a Google Image Search.

Next, choose your question type. Google Forms includes all the standard types of questions that you’ll find in other forms tools like SurveyMonkey or Microsoft Forms

Question types include:

  • Short answer
  • Paragraph
  • Multiple choice
  • Checkboxes
  • Dropdown selector
  • File upload (Files will be uploaded to the form owner’s Google Drive.)
  • Linear scale
  • Multiple choice grid
  • Checkbox grid
  • Date
  • Time

Enter the response options for your question. For any question type, there are options beneath the question and answers where you can require a response, add a description or other extra text beneath the question, add response validation, specify which section the respondent should jump to based on their answer, and/or shuffle the order in which the answer options appear. 

3. Pick a Theme

See what your form will look like to respondents at any point by selecting the Preview icon. 

To jazz up the look and feel of your form, select the Theme options icon. There you can choose a header image for your form as well as theme and background colors. You can also choose from among four font styles. (Special request: for love of all that is holy, please never, ever choose the “Decorative” font.)

4. Check Settings for More Options

Selecting the Settings (gear) icon will give you access to additional options related to collecting responses, how your form is presented, and the options for quizzes discussed above.

Settings for Collecting Responses

In the General tab you can choose to collect email addresses from the people who fill out your form. Moreover, you can set the form to email respondents their answers automatically or only if the respondent requests a copy.

You can also stop people from responding multiple times. There are also settings to allow respondents to edit their responses after they submit the form and to allow them to see summary charts and text responses.

Presentation Settings

In the Presentation tab in Settings, you can opt to show respondents a progress bar indicating how much of the form is left for them to complete. If you want the order of the questions to be randomized, check the box next to Shuffle question order. And, if you want respondents to be able to fill out the form again, check the box next to Show link to submit another response.

The Presentation tab is also where you can write a Confirmation message that will be displayed once respondents have completed the form.

5. Share Your Form

Once your form is ready to go, select the Send button. You’ll see a number of ways to share your form. Check the box marked Collect email addresses if you want to keep a record of respondents’ email addresses. 

Send Via Email 

To send your form in an email, enter in the recipient’s email address, the email subject, and, if you want, a short message. If you want the form to be directly embedded in the email itself, as opposed to an email with a link to the form, check the box marked Include form in email

If you want to share the form for other editors to edit, select Add collaborators and add editors by selecting them from the list or entering their email address. 

Generate a Link

Selecting Send via link will generate a link you can copy and paste anywhere you want, including in a text message, a messaging app, or chat group. 

Share on Social Media

Choosing the Facebook or Twitter icons will open a new browser tab with a pre-filled draft post for the social media network you selected. 

6. Get Answers

Select the Responses tab, and you’ll get access to a quick summary of responses. You can also view individual responses or export responses to a spreadsheet.

Generate Embed HTML Code

If you want to embed your form onto a web page, choose Send via Embed HTML. You can specify the width and height of the form, and Google Forms will generate HTML code for you to copy and paste into your website.

Add-Ons for Google Forms

There are many add-ons available for Google Forms in the Google Workspace Marketplace. These add-ons can extend the functionality of Google Forms in all kinds of ways. Select the More/Ellipsis icon to the right of the Send button and choose Add-ons.

Do you want to add a timer to your form, customize email notifications, or generate a word cloud from form responses? There’s an add-on for that.

How to Turn Off and Manage YouTube Notifications

When you use YouTube frequently, the amount of recommendations and notifications you receive can get overwhelming, especially if you’re subscribed to many channels that upload new videos often.

By default, when you subscribe to a new channel, you’ll start getting personalized notifications. YouTube will send you emails, notifications on your smartphone, and on your computer as well containing highlights of your activity on the platform. 

The good news is you don’t have to unsubscribe or block YouTube channels to rid yourself of those notifications. If you don’t want your phone or email to be filled with those messages, learn how to turn off and manage YouTube notifications. 

What’s the Difference Between YouTube Notifications and Subscription Feed? 

Users sometimes confuse YouTube notifications with what they see on their Subscription feed. When you go on YouTube, and select Menu > Subscriptions, you’ll find your Subscription feed with all recently uploaded videos from the channels you’re subscribed to. 

Notifications tell you about the latest videos and updates from the channels you’re subscribed to. When you open YouTube, select the bell icon next to your profile picture to access the notifications window. 

When you subscribe to a channel, your YouTube notifications are automatically set to Personalized. That means you’ll only receive notifications about selected uploads and live streams from the channel. In this case, the YouTube algorithm decides what notifications you’re getting, based on your watch history, your list of subscriptions, and other activity on the site. 

The other two options here include All notifications, which means you’ll get notified about every kind of activity of the channel, and None, which turns off all notifications from the selected channel. 

How to Turn Off YouTube Notifications

There’s a number of reasons why you might want to turn off your YouTube notifications. Maybe you feel that you recently started getting too many notifications, or notifications from channels that you’re not interested in. It could be that you specifically don’t want to receive notifications via email or push-notifications on your smartphone or desktop. 

There are three general ways to turn off your YouTube notifications: via the channel settings, account settings, or your device settings. We already covered how to do it via the channel settings – by selecting None from the notifications options under a video from a channel you’re subscribed to. If you don’t feel like going through all of your subscribed channels one by one to turn off notifications, you can turn all notifications at once using your YouTube account settings.

You can do that both on your computer and your mobile. To turn off YouTube notifications on your computer, follow the steps below.

  1. Open YouTube and sing into your account.
  2. Select your profile picture at the upper-right corner of the screen.
  1. Select Settings.
  2. From the menu on the left, select Notifications

Here you can switch off all types of YouTube notifications, including Desktop and Email notifications. To do that, toggle the switch next to them.

To turn off YouTube notifications on your smartphone, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the YouTube mobile app and sing into your account.
  2. Select your profile picture at the top of your screen.
  1. Select Settings > Notifications

You can also turn off YouTube notifications using the Settings app on your smartphone. 

To do that, follow the path Settings > Notifications > Apps > YouTube, then toggle the switch to turn the notifications off. 

How to Manage YouTube Notifications On Your Desktop

In case you don’t want to turn off all of your YouTube notifications but instead want more control over what type of notifications you get, you can manage YouTube notifications using your computer.

To choose what YouTube alerts you about, open YouTube on your desktop, select your profile picture and follow the path Settings > Notifications

At the top of the Notifications window you’ll find the General section. Here you can choose whether or not to receive alerts about your subscriptions, recommended videos, activity on your own YouTube channel, activity and replies on your comments, mentions, and shared content. To turn the notifications on or off, toggle the switch next to them. 

At the bottom of the same window you’ll find the Email notifications section. Here you can set up the YouTube notifications that you want to receive by email. 

How to Manage YouTube Channel Notifications On Your Smartphone

What if you want to receive notifications from the selected channels that you’re subscribed to? In your mobile app, you can also manage YouTube notifications by channel. To do that, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the YouTube mobile app and sing into your account.
  2. Select Subscriptions at the bottom of the screen. 
  3. Select All to open the list of your subscribed channels. 
  1. Select Manage
  1. Select the bell icon next to a specific channel to manage the notifications. 

If among your subscriptions there’s a channel with the audience set to made for kids, you won’t be receiving the notifications by default, so there’s no need to change the settings. 

Improve Your YouTube User Experience

There are numerous YouTube tips, hacks, and shortcuts that you can use to improve your user experience on the platform. Being able to choose what alerts you receive from YouTube is one of them. However, if you feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of content that the streaming service offers, the ultimate solution is to delete your YouTube account and see if that has a serious impact on your life. 

Do you think you’re receiving too many notifications from YouTube? Which method did you use to deal with excessive YouTube alerts? Share your experience with YouTube notifications in the comments section below. 

How to Measure Distance on Google Earth

Google Earth might be the coolest of all the Google apps. It’s like Google Maps’ younger, more tech-savvy sibling. What other free, open source program gives you the ability to explore our shared planet, zooming from your home to a city on the other side of the globe or even to space—all in just a few clicks or taps?

In this article, we’ll show you how to measure distances, areas, and elevations on Google Earth. The first step is to choose a version of Google Earth to use. There are three main versions. 

The quickest way to get started is to access Google Earth on the web by visiting earth.google.com from a supported web browser. Currently, supported browsers include Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera.

Mobile device users can download the Google Earth app from Apple’s App Store or from the Google Play store. 

And those of you who want access to more features can download Google Earth Pro. Despite the “Pro” in its name, this desktop application is free and available for PC, Mac, and Linux. Google Earth Pro includes historical imagery and the ability to import and export GIS data—features that the web and mobile apps lack. 

How to Measure Distances with Google Earth

Before we get into how to measure distances in Google Earth, first a warning about accuracy. Volumes have been written on this topic, and the upshot is that positional accuracy in Google Earth isn’t perfect, especially over long distances. For most amateur users and uses, though, it’ll be good enough.

You will find that measuring the distance between two points on Google Earth is easy.

  1. Search for your starting point.
  1. Select the ruler in the toolbar.
  1. Select your starting point by clicking on the map.
  1. Select a second point on the map. The line between the two points will be yellow, and the distance between them will be displayed.

If you want to remove the last point you set, select Undo. You can also click and drag any points you’ve already set.

Units of Distance in Google Earth

Google Earth will automatically choose the unit of measurement that makes the most sense for the distance you have measured. Alternatively, you can toggle between several units of measurement. 

Select the dropdown arrow next to the distance, and choose your measurement unit. Options range from metric units like centimeters, meters, and kilometers, to imperial measurements like inches, feet, yards, and miles. You can also opt for nautical miles or even Smoots

How to Measure Area with Google Earth

Measuring the area of a polygon in Google Earth is quite similar to measuring the distance between two points. Simply add three or more points and close the shape by selecting the first point.

The information panel will now display both the perimeter and the area of the shape you have created.

Again, you can change the unit of measurement by selecting the dropdown arrow next to each measurement.

How to Measure Elevation in Google Earth

Google Earth makes it really easy to find the elevation of any place on the planet. Simply select a point on the map, and the elevation will display in the lower-right corner of the map.

How to Measure Your House’s Height on Google Earth

Now that you know how to measure elevation, you can use that knowledge to calculate the height of your house (or any building) provided that Google Earth is rendering the building in 3D. 

This exercise comes down to three steps:

  1. Determine the elevation of ground level by clicking on a point on the map at ground level. Note the elevation measurement of that point in the bottom-right corner of the map.
  2. Determine the elevation of the roof of the building whose height you want to measure by clicking on the roof of the building on the map. Note the elevation measurement of that point in the bottom-right corner of the map.
  3. Subtract the ground level elevation from the elevation of the roof, and that gives you the height of the building.

Measuring 3D Polygons with Google Earth Pro

If you’re using Google Earth Pro, you can go about this a different way. 

  1. In the Layers panel, make sure the box next to 3D Buildings is checked.
  1. Select the ruler tool.
  1. In the Ruler pop-up window, select the 3D polygon tab.
  1. Click on the map to set your points. You could select, for instance, the four corners of one side of a building. The Ruler panel will display the perimeter and the area of the polygon shape you have created. Again, you can use the dropdown arrows to select different units of measurement.

What Else Can You Do with Google Earth?

There’s so much more to Google Earth beyond measuring distances and areas. Launch the Voyager showcase and enjoy interactive tours, quizzes, and map layers.

Or, in true Google fashion, select the “I’m feeling lucky” icon, and Google Earth will whisk you away to a part of the world you’ve probably never heard of before. And, before you leave, be sure to learn how to launch the free Flight Simulator game that’s hidden inside Google Earth Pro!

How Application Launcher for Google Drive Works

Every software update and upgrade gets you closer to the ultimate goal – being able to quickly do every task from the same window or app on your device. That would save you a lot of time and effort, since you wouldn’t have to switch to different apps and tabs and can focus on your work instead. 

Not many users know that it’s already possible to do this with the Application Launcher for Google Drive. Here’s how to download the Application Launcher extension for Chrome and start using it to do all of your tasks without leaving Google Drive. 

What’s an Application Launcher for Drive?

Google Drive has many hidden features that can turn you into an advanced user and save you time when completing tasks. You can take it even further by installing an Application Launcher extension for Google Chrome. 

The Application Launcher is a browser add-on that allows you to open files from your Google Drive using any software on your computer. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an Excel sheet or a photo that you want to edit in Photoshop – as long as the software is compatible with Google Drive, the Application Launcher add-on will allow you to open it.

If you don’t have the right app installed on your device, the Application Launcher will suggest the right download for you. All of this happens inside the same Google Drive window. 

The only downside of this add-on is that it’s only available for Google Chrome and not for any other browser. 

How to Install the Application Launcher for Drive

Before you can start using all of your local apps from Google Drive, you need to install the Application Launcher extension in your browser. To do that, follow the steps below.

  1. Open a new tab in Google Chrome. 
  2. Find the Bookmarks menu on top of your window and select Apps.
  1. Select Web Store to open the Google Chrome Store.
  1. Use the Search tab to find the Application Launcher for Drive add-on.
  1. Select Add to Chrome to install the extension.

After you enable the extension in Chrome, you can start using it to open files from Google Drive. 

How to Use the Application Launcher for Google Drive

Using Application Launcher for Drive is easy. All you need to do is to open your Google Drive, locate the file you’d like to open, right-click on it and select Open with. You’ll see a number of apps and Chrome extensions that you can use to open this particular file. 

If you want to use an app that’s installed on your computer to open the file, select Open with > Apps on your computer. If you already have Backup and Sync installed, you’ll see a list of apps from your device that you can use to open your file. 

If you don’t have it yet, you’ll get the New ways to work on the files that you save in Drive message instead. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to use the Application Launcher for Drive after you install Google Backup and Sync on your device. 

How to Install Google Backup and Sync

To install Backup and Sync on your device, select the Download Backup and Sync in the pop-up window. Alternatively, go to the Google Drive Download page, scroll down, and select Backup and Sync > Download

Once you download it, open Backup and Sync and install it on your computer. The app will ask you to sign into your Google account and choose folders and files from your computer that you want to sync and automatically backup to Google Drive. 

After you set up Backup and Sync, you can start using it together with the Application Launcher to open files in Google Drive. Open the file in Google Drive, select Open with, and select the app from your computer that you want to use to open this file. 

How to Use Application Launcher on Your Smartphone

You can use Application Launcher for Drive on both your computer and your smartphone. Thanks to the Application Launcher, you’ll be able to open your files using the apps that you have installed on your smartphone right from Google Drive. 

To use Application Launcher on your smartphone, follow the steps below.

  1. Open Google Drive on your phone.
  2. Find the file you want to open and select the three vertical dots next to it to open the Menu
  1. Scroll down and select Open with.
  1. You’ll see the list of apps that you’ve installed on your smartphone that are compatible with Google Drive. Select the app you’d like to use to open your file. 

To return to Google Drive, use the back button on your smartphone. All the changes you’ll make in your files while using Application Launcher and your local apps will be automatically saved in Google Drive. 

Launch Any of Your Applications from Google Drive in Chrome

Application Launcher for Drive is an awesome Chrome extension that can make your life easier. For someone who uses Google Drive a lot for work or other purposes, this add-on can help to narrow down the continuous list of apps they use by having them all one click away. If you later decide to get rid of it, you can easily disable this add-on by removing the Application Launcher from your Google Chrome extensions. 

Have you ever used Application Launcher for Drive before? What other Google Chrome extensions do you find most useful? Share your experience with Google Chrome add-ons in the comments below.