ExpressVPN network clogged by data packet stuck in undersea cable

Undersea cable bulges with data.

The post was originally published on April 1, 2021.

It’s been a huge week here at ExpressVPN, for our engineers and customers alike. Network traffic has been backed up for miles. The culprit? A rogue data packet, 10,000 bytes in size—and big enough to clog the most resilient of pipes on the information superhighway.

We knew the packet, dubbed Cthulhu and Lovecraftian in magnitude, would be a tight squeeze. But we could not have predicted that it would get lodged in a submarine cable in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean roughly 300 miles off the coast of Ponta Delgada. 

Currently, there are thousands of other data packets lined up on both sides of the impediment, awaiting safe passage. What’s clear is that until we dislodge the stuck packet, our customers’ data won’t flow freely across the internet.

This outage has resulted in our support queue filling with a wide range of tickets from ExpressVPN customers. Some have voiced their support for our mission and have offered words of encouragement and prayer. Others demonstrate clear signs of frustration.

One of our customers, who we’ll call Rachel, contacted us in desperation: “I’ve been trying to use your service for over a week to catch Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah. Because of your oversized packet—what’s it called? Cuttlefish? Cuddletoo?—I still don’t know if she actually called the monarchy racist. I can’t even talk about it intelligently on Facebook. Please help!”

What we know is that until we manage to dislodge the stuck packet, network traffic will remain at a standstill. In fact, we’ve reached out to numerous experts in undersea extraction to determine our best next steps. 

One such expert, Elon Musk, was happy to help as long as we thanked him publicly afterwards for saving the world—and as long as we referred to him only as Elon “the real Tony Stark” Musk. The real Tony Stark suggested that Tesla Stark Industries could build a small submersible to dive several miles beneath the ocean and bring the packet to safety. However, when we began to question the physics of it and whether his submersible could reach such an operating depth, Stark began hurling invective at us on Twitter, hinting darkly: “I know how to blow things up.”

Director James Cameron (The Abyss, Avatar, True Lies) is known for making Titanic only to fund his deepsea diving adventures. When consulted on the extraction, Cameron was insistent that we not make eye contact with him. He then advised that this sounded like a boring idea for a film. We had to remind him, several times during our meeting, that we were not pitching a film and that we were dealing with an actual clogged network. He still wasn’t impressed.

In the interim, we’ve been fielding support requests—which we’re working round-the-clock to resolve—from customers who can’t access their Instagram feeds for those sweet sweet likes, to those who are missing out on the excitement of March Madness, to grandmas who play Pokemon Go

In a last-ditch effort, we reached out to perhaps the most knowledgeable and capable undersea expert, Arthur Curry. For a guy that can talk to fish, he wasn’t much help. We suppose he has more on his plate these days…

So we’re back to square one. Are you an expert in search and rescue missions or undersea extraction? Have a spare military-grade submarine or U-boat lying around? Or any other clever ideas on how to free our packet? Our support hotline is open 24/7. We’re standing by waiting for your suggestions.

ExpressVPN is dedicated to your online security and privacy. Posts from this account will focus on company news or significant privacy and security stories.