That network icon send/receive may be normal.
Your broadband ISP, (Internet Service Provider), will continuously send data to the computer to confirm it is active.
However, you say nothing about the protection software you use. Do you have;
1] A firewall? This is needed to prevent unauthorised access to your computer by hackers, and also prevent unauthorised software that is installed on the computer, (whether officially or by hackers/virus/spyware), from connecting to the internet.
2] An anti-virus scanner? You need an anti-virus scanner, always updated with the latest virus definitions, to scan data as it comes in to the computer, for viruses. It should also everyday on a 'full scan' of the computer, and to scan individual files you personally download from the internet, or copy across from other media, such as CDs/DVDs, flash/USB drives, etc.
3] Any anti-spyware utilities? You need 2 or 3 anti-spyware scanners, all kept up to date, and one of which is always running in the background. Use them all to perform manual scans once a week or so.
Malware, (the collective name for all the above), is the greatest single cause for a slow computer and a slow internet connection, and the clue in your post is that your connection works much better in Safe Mode (with networking). That is because most malware cannot load itself in Safe Mode.
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