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DearDiary Is No Longer Free To Use

Unfortunately, if you’ve been on the Facebook group this week you’ll know that DearDiary is no longer free for use. We recently had something of a security issue, which although it turned out to be an innocuous event, did highlight significant weaknesses in our ability to deal with such issues.

To be clear, the security and privacy of your data has ALWAYS been our number one priority.

With that in mind I had to radically re-think the direction that DearDiary was taking. It became clear that the number of users far outweighed my ability to provide timely and up to date support for the site or it’s customers.

You Must Be A Patreon Patron To Use DD Now

What this means is that, in reality, DearDiary.Net has been kept afloat by approximately 10 of its users. Given that the previous incarnation of DearDiary.Net relied on custom code that I wrote about 10 years ago, it became, once again, precariously balanced and potentially a security vulnerability.

It’s not fair on anyone to have their personal data at risk.

In order to ensure people’s data is safe, the previous incarnation of the site has been put into read only mode, available at https://www.deardiary.org where it can no longer be administered, for the safety reasons given above.

The new system uses vanilla WordPress which is maintained by a team of open source volunteers to ensure it’s safety profile and security. It is one diary per installation and (when the first sites are migrated) will be available at their-username.deardiary.net instead of the previous www.deardiary.net/their-username

This is done so that any vulnerabilities are likely to be patched quickly by the WordPress team or any plugin developer. But should a vulnerability exist in one diary site, only that person’s data will be exposed (if indeed the vulnerability is a data breach) and not a whole database full of users. This reduces the attack surface considerably and likely makes the site not worth attacking in the first place.

Finally, other security measures can be in place, and backups taken every night because the database will never become as unwieldy.

We Are Sorry To See Free Users Go

We are sorry that we can’t provide access to the non-Patrons any more. DearDiary was all about providing diary chronicles for everyone but it was becoming impossible to achieve without something giving.

The database which stores everyone’s entries and configuration settings is now a massive 13 Gigabytes in size. This takes a fair bit of horsepower on a server to manage. Which is why we had to migrate away from shared hosting a year or so ago.

Shared hosting would’ve been ideal because the hosting provider takes care of security for you. In the current situation I have to do it all.

Your Data Is NOT Lost

Your diary is still your diary. It is also still available and can be downloaded by you as a WordPress export file. At the time of writing you will need to contact us and provide your diary details so that we can create a username and password so that you can login through the sitewide password system which you’ll encounter if you try to access https://www.deardiary.org/ at the moment.

It is possible that at some point the site will go offline. However, even under these circumstances I will provide a way for you to be able to obtain your diary as an XML WordPress export which you can import in to any other WordPress provider.

Join Us On Patreon

Of course, ideally we’d love to see you sign up to Patreon. A small pledge of just $3/mth is all that’s needed to move your diary to this new platform. If more people sign up in the future as Patrons we may revisit the minimum payment and reduce it as we’re not here to extort you.

The spin off benefits are there will be no spammers taking up space. There’s less risk of vulnerabilities appearing. The site will run quicker because each individual diary is on it’s own sub-domain with its own database. Smaller databases can be accessed a lot quicker.

Also, because it’s vanilla WordPress you can install ANY theme or plugin you want to which can enhance your diary experience. And over time I will find a way to link the individual sites together in a way that they stay individual, yet part of the community. Watch this space!

We do hope you understand that after all these years we haven’t come to this decision lightly and we are sorry that it causes significant inconvenience for many of you. If you decide not to come with us on the Patreon journey we will do our best to get your diary to you if you desire and wish you all the very best!

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