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You may have some problems using PlayStation Network's features this week. Don't worry, though: this downtime is due to scheduled maintenance rather than any kind of foul play.

"We wanted to take a moment to inform you of a network maintenance, currently scheduled for Thursday the 15th, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Pacific Time (12:00 PM to 4:00 PM Eastern Time)," Sony announced on their forums. "We expect this maintenance to last approximately 4 hours. During this time we will deploy a series of back-end improvements to the network."

This maintenance won't be limited to North America. The European Twitter account for PlayStation says that it'll happen there too during the same time window:
PSN won't be completely offline during this process. The PlayStation Store, PlayStation Home, and Account Management features won't be accessible during the maintenance. This means, among other things, that you won't be able to take advantage of the Anniversary Sale. However, you will be able to play PlayStation games online or use online apps like Netflix. Depending on what you planned for the evening, you might not be inconvenienced by the maintenance at all.

In the past, PSN users could only use online features during maintenance if they had logged in recently. However, that's no longer the case.

"The restriction to log in a few days before the maintenance has been lifted. As long as you have an active account with PSN as of the start of maintenance, you will be able to play online and access partner services such as Netflix while the maintenance is occurring. This is for PS4, PS3, and Vita platforms."

In other words, the scheduled maintenance will be more convenient than the abrupt downtime PSN experienced last night. Many PlayStation gamers were left unable to log into the service for a short period of time.
It's been a rough month for PSN users. The service went down on Christmas Eve due to a DDoS attack and stayed offline for several days afterward. The technical problems were made all the more frustrating by the fact that many PlayStation gamers now pay the monthly PlayStation Plus subscription for online multiplayer. The downtime meant they weren't getting the product they paid for.

The extended holiday downtime led Sony to give discounts to all PSN users. They also tacked five free days onto the subscription of every current PS Plus member.
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