Today I learned that if you downgrade from a paid to a free GitHub account, you’ll lose any branch protection rules you’ve added to your private repositories. It’s my fault for not reading the fine print more carefully, but still – it would have been helpful for them to toss up an alert or something that makes it obvious that by downgrading to the free tier there will be destructive side effects on features you probably set-and-forgot years ago and have taken for granted. I live in mortal fear of making a dumb mistake and losing irreplaceable source code. Downgrading to free account is, in my estimation, Step One on the path to me making such a mistake.
Please note also that when upgrading back to a Pro account, any branch protection rules you had before were permanently deleted when you downgraded to the free tier. They will all have to be recreated from scratch. So if you were considering downgrading to a free GitHub account, I don’t recommend doing so if you use private repositories for code that you care about. And if you have already downgraded to a free account, double check that you can live with the consequences of accidentally force pushing or deleting an important branch.
Update: I received a friendly reply from GitHub CEO Nat Friedman. :)