the servers got round 50ping, when i join them i got 30-50 ping then a few mins later the ping goes up to 400 then again down to 30 then up again to 400. i got no download in background, only steam and my firefox explorer
EVM is a mod made for esf, i dont really know a whole lot on it, so dont ask me any questions about it, plus the administration doesnt really like it when people ask about it so try not to post about it here, if you are interested then go to their forums, i believe they have some.
Anyway, do you have any programs like AIM or adware/spyware going on in the background like grega asked?, they can use your internet connection to do stuff too. Also try ending some programs running in the background using your task manager, just be sure to only end programs that are run by the user though.
Oh and, just a tip; Automatic updates don't get ALL updates PLUS having that on can cause lag in-game if it decides to download while you're playing. I recommend turning it off.
If you think STEAM is a problem; Open up the games list and right click any non-3rd party game (Ex. Half-Life, Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike, Opposing Force) and click PROPERTIES and change them to not keep the game up to date. Then the game will only update next time you run it.