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5.6 File System Caches

File systems make extensive use of caches to eliminate physical I/Os where possible. A file system typically uses several different types of cache, including logical metadata caches, physical metadata caches, and block caches. Each file system implementation has its unique set of caches, which are, however, often logically arranged, as shown in Figure 5.4.


Figure 5.4 File System Caches

The arrangement of caches for various file systems is shown below:

  • UFS. The file data is cached in a block cache, implemented with the VM system page cache (see Section 14.7 in Solaris Internals). The physical meta-data (information about block placement in the file system structure) is cached in the buffer cache in 512-byte blocks. Logical metadata is cached in the UFS inode cache, which is private to UFS. Vnode-to-path translations are cached in the central directory name lookup cache (DNLC).
  • NFS. The file data is cached in a block cache, implemented with the VM system page cache (see Section 14.7 in Solaris Internals). The physical meta-data (information about block placement in the file system structure) is cached in the buffer cache in 512-byte blocks. Logical metadata is cached in the NFS attribute cache, and NFS nodes are cached in the NFS rnode cache, which are private to NFS. File name-to-path translations are cached in the central DNLC.
  • ZFS. The file data is cached in ZFS's adaptive replacement cache (ARC), rather than in the page cache as is the case for almost all other file systems.

5.6.1 Page Cache

File and directory data for traditional Solaris file systems, including UFS, NFS, and others, are cached in the page cache. The virtual memory system implements a page cache, and the file system uses this facility to cache files. This means that to understand file system caching behavior, we need to look at how the virtual memory system implements the page cache.

The virtual memory system divides physical memory into chunks known as pages; on UltraSPARC systems, a page is 8 kilobytes. To read data from a file into memory, the virtual memory system reads in one page at a time, or "pages in" a file. The page-in operation is initiated in the virtual memory system, which requests the file's file system to page in a page from storage to memory. Every time we read in data from disk to memory, we cause paging to occur. We see the tally when we look at the virtual memory statistics. For example, reading a file will be reflected in vmstat as page-ins.

In our example, we can see that by starting a program that does random reads of a file, we cause a number of page-ins to occur, as indicated by the numbers in the pi column of vmstat.

There is no parameter equivalent to bufhwm to limit or control the size of the page cache. The page cache simply grows to consume available free memory. See Section 14.8 in Solaris Internals for a complete description of how the page cache is managed in Solaris.

   # ./rreadtest testfile&

   # vmstat
  procs     memory            page            disk          faults      cpu
 r b w  swap  free  re  mf  pi  po fr de sr s0 -- -- --   in   sy   cs us sy id
 0 0 0 50436  2064   5   0  81   0  0  0  0 15  0  0  0  168  361   69  1 25 74
 0 0 0 50508  1336  14   0 222   0  0  0  0 35  0  0  0  210  902  130  2 51 47
 0 0 0 50508   648  10   0 177   0  0  0  0 27  0  0  0  168  850  121  1 60 39
 0 0 0 50508   584  29  57  88 109  0  0  6 14  0  0  0  108 5284  120  7 72 20
 0 0 0 50508   484   0  50 249  96  0  0 18 33  0  0  0  199  542  124  0 50 50
 0 0 0 50508   492   0  41 260  70  0  0 56 34  0  0  0  209  649  128  1 49 50
 0 0 0 50508   472   0  58 253 116  0  0 45 33  0  0  0  198  566  122  1 46 53

You can use an MDB command to view the size of the page cache. The macro is included with Solaris 9 and later.

sol9# mdb -k
Loading modules: [ unix krtld genunix ip ufs_log logindmux ptm cpc sppp ipc random nfs ]
> ::memstat

Page Summary                Pages                MB  %Tot
------------     ----------------  ----------------  ----
Kernel                      53444               208   10%
Anon                       119088               465   23%
Exec and libs                2299                 8    0%
Page cache                  29185               114    6%
Free (cachelist)              347                 1    0%
Free (freelist)            317909              1241   61%

Total                      522272              2040
Physical                   512136              2000

The page-cache-related categories are described as follows:

  • Exec and libs. The amount of memory used for mapped files interpreted as binaries or libraries. This is typically the sum of memory used for user binaries and shared libraries. Technically, this memory is part of the page cache, but it is page-cache-tagged as "executable" when a file is mapped with PROT_EXEC and file permissions include execute permission.
  • Page cache. The amount of unmapped page cache, that is, page cache not on the cache list. This category includes the segmap portion of the page cache and any memory mapped files. If the applications on the system are solely using a read/write path, then we would expect the size of this bucket not to exceed segmap_percent (defaults to 12% of physical memory size). Files in /tmp are also included in this category.
  • Free (cache list). The amount of page cache on the free list. The free list contains unmapped file pages and is typically where the majority of the file system cache resides. Expect to see a large cache list on a system that has large file sets and sufficient memory for file caching. Beginning with Solaris 8, the file system cycles its pages through the cache list, preventing it from stealing memory from other applications unless a true memory shortage occurs.

The complete list of categories is described in Section 6.4.3 and further in Section 14.8 in Solaris Internals.

With DTrace, we now have a method of collecting one of the most significant performance statistics for a file system in Solaris—the cache hit ratio in the file system page cache. By using DTrace with probes at the entry and exit to the file system, we can collect the logical I/O events into the file system and physical I/O events from the file system into the device I/O subsystem.

#!/usr/sbin/dtrace -s

#pragma D option quiet

/self->trace == 0 && (((vnode_t *)arg0)->v_vfsp)->vfs_vnodecovered/
        vp = (vnode_t*)arg0;
        vfs = (vfs_t *)vp->v_vfsp;
        mountvp = vfs->vfs_vnodecovered;
        uio = (uio_t*)arg1;
        @rio[stringof(mountvp->v_path), "logical"] = count();
        @rbytes[stringof(mountvp->v_path), "logical"] = sum(uio->uio_resid);
        self->trace = 1;

/self->trace == 0 && (((vnode_t *)arg0)->v_vfsp == `rootvfs)/
        vp = (vnode_t*)arg0;
        vfs = (vfs_t *)vp->v_vfsp;
        mountvp = vfs->vfs_vnodecovered;
        uio = (uio_t*)arg1;
        @rio[stringof("/"), "logical"] = count();
        @rbytes[stringof("/"), "logical"] = sum(uio->uio_resid);
        self->trace = 1;

/self->trace == 1/
        self->trace = 0;

        @rio[self->path, "physical"] = count();
        @rbytes[self->path, "physical"] = sum(args[0]->b_bcount);
        trunc (@rio, 20);
        trunc (@rbytes, 20);
        printf ("\nRead IOPS\n");
        printa ("%-60s %10s %10@d\n", @rio);
        printf ("\nRead Bandwidth\n");
        printa ("%-60s %10s %10@d\n", @rbytes);
        trunc (@rbytes);
        trunc (@rio);

These two statistics give us insight into how effective the file system cache is, and whether adding physical memory could increase the amount of file-system-level caching.

Using this script, we can probe for the number of logical bytes in the file system through the new Solaris 10 file system fop layer. We count the physical bytes by using the io provider. Running the script, we can see the number of logical and physical bytes for a file system, and we can use these numbers to calculate the hit ratio.

/data1                                                          physical         287
/data1                                                           logical        2401

Read Bandwidth
/data1                                                          physical     2351104
/data1                                                           logical     5101240

The /data1 file system on this server is doing 2401 logical IOPS and 287 physical—that is, a hit ratio of 2401 ÷ (2401 + 287) = 89%. It is also doing 5.1 Mbytes/sec logical and 2.3 Mbytes/sec physical.

We can also do this at the file level.

#!/usr/sbin/dtrace -s

#pragma D option quiet

/self->trace == 0 && (((vnode_t *)arg0)->v_path)/
        vp = (vnode_t*)arg0;
        uio = (uio_t*)arg1;
        self->trace = 1;
        @rio[stringof(vp->v_path), "logical"] = count();
        @rbytes[stringof(vp->v_path), "logical"] = sum(uio->uio_resid);
/self->trace == 1/
        self->trace = 0;

        @rio[self->path, "physical"] = count();
        @rbytes[self->path, "physical"] = sum(args[0]->b_bcount);

        trunc (@rio, 20);
        trunc (@rbytes, 20);
        printf ("\nRead IOPS\n");
        printa ("%-60s %10s %10@d\n", @rio);
        printf ("\nRead Bandwidth\n");
        printa ("%-60s %10s %10@d\n", @rbytes);
        trunc (@rbytes);
        trunc (@rio);

5.6.2 Bypassing the Page Cache with Direct I/O

In some cases we may want to do completely unbuffered I/O to a file. A direct I/O facility in most file systems allows a direct file read or write to completely bypass the file system page cache. Direct I/O is supported on the following file systems:

  • UFS. Support for direct I/O was added to UFS starting with Solaris 2.6. Direct I/O allows reads and writes to files in a regular file system to bypass the page cache and access the file at near raw disk performance. Direct I/O can be advantageous when you are accessing a file in a manner where caching is of no benefit. For example, if you are copying a very large file from one disk to another, then it is likely that the file will not fit in memory and you will just cause the system to page heavily. By using direct I/O, you can copy the file through the file system without reading through the page cache and thereby eliminate both the memory pressure caused by the file system and the additional CPU cost of the layers of cache.

    Direct I/O also eliminates the double copy that is performed when the read and write system calls are used. When we read a file through normal buffered I/O, the file system takes two steps: (1) It uses a DMA transfer from the disk controller into the kernel's address space and (2) it copies the data into the buffer supplied by the user in the read system call. Direct I/O eliminates the second step by arranging for the DMA transfer to occur directly into the user's address space.

    Direct I/O bypasses the buffer cache only if all the following are true:

    - The file is not memory mapped.
    - The file does not have holes.
    - The read/write is sector aligned (512 byte).
  • QFS. Support for direct I/O is the same as with UFS.
  • NFS. NFS also supports direct I/O. With direct I/O enabled, NFS bypasses client-side caching and passes all requests directly to the NFS server. Both reads and writes are uncached and become synchronous (they need to wait for the server to complete). Unlike disk-based direct I/O support, NFS's support imposes no restrictions on I/O size or alignment; all requests are made directly to the server.

You enable direct I/O by mounting an entire file system with the force-directio mount option, as shown below.

   # mount -o forcedirectio /dev/dsk/c0t0d0s6 /u1

You can also enable direct I/O for any file with the directio system call. Note that the change is file based, and every reader and writer of the file will be forced to use directio once it's enabled.

int directio(int fildes, DIRECTIO_ON | DIRECTIO_OFF);
                                                                        See sys/fcntl.h

Direct I/O can provide extremely fast transfers when moving data with big block sizes (>64 kilobytes), but it can be a significant performance limitation for smaller sizes. If an application reads and writes in small sizes, then its performance may suffer since there is no read-ahead or write clustering and no caching.

Databases are a good candidate for direct I/O since they cache their own blocks in a shared global buffer and can cluster their own reads and writes into larger operations.

A set of direct I/O statistics is provided with the ufs implementation by means of the kstat interface. The structure exported by ufs_directio_kstats is shown below. Note that this structure may change, and performance tools should not rely on the format of the direct I/O statistics.

struct ufs_directio_kstats {
        uint_t  logical_reads;  /* Number of fs read operations */
        uint_t  phys_reads;     /* Number of physical reads */
        uint_t  hole_reads;     /* Number of reads from holes */
        uint_t  nread;          /* Physical bytes read */
        uint_t  logical_writes; /* Number of fs write operations */
        uint_t  phys_writes;    /* Number of physical writes */
        uint_t  nwritten;       /* Physical bytes written */
        uint_t  nflushes;       /* Number of times cache was cleared */
} ufs_directio_kstats;

You can inspect the direct I/O statistics with a utility from our Web site at http://www.solarisinternals.com .

   # directiostat 3
  lreads lwrites  preads pwrites     Krd      Kwr holdrds  nflush
       0       0       0       0       0       0        0       0
       0       0       0       0       0       0        0       0
       0       0       0       0       0       0        0       0

5.6.3 The Directory Name Lookup Cache

The directory name cache caches path names for vnodes, so when we open a file that has been opened recently, we don't need to rescan the directory to find the file name. Each time we find the path name for a vnode, we store it in the directory name cache. (See Section 14.10 in Solaris Internals for further information on the DNLC operation.) The number of entries in the DNLC is set by the system-tuneable parameter, ncsize, which is set at boot time by the calculations shown in Table 5.1. The ncsize parameter is calculated in proportion to the maxusers parameter, which is equal to the number of megabytes of memory installed in the system, capped by a maximum of 1024. The maxusers parameter can also be overridden in /etc/system to a maximum of 2048.

Table 5.1. DNLC Default Sizes

Solaris Version

Default ncsize Calculation

Solaris 2.4, 2.5, 2.5.1

ncsize = (17 * maxusers) + 90

Solaris 2.6 onwards

ncsize = (68 * maxusers) + 360

The size of the DNLC rarely needs to be adjusted, because the size scales with the amount of memory installed in the system. Earlier Solaris versions had a default maximum of 17498 (34906 with maxusers set to 2048), and later Solaris versions have a maximum of 69992 (139624 with maxusers set to 2048).

Use MDB to determine the size of the DNLC.

   # mdb -k

   > ncsize/D
ncsize:         25520

The DNLC maintains housekeeping threads through a task queue. The dnlc_reduce_cache() activates the task queue when name cache entries reach ncsize, and it reduces the size to dnlc_nentries_low_water, which by default is one hundredth less than (or 99% of) ncsize. If dnlc_nentries reaches dnlc_max_nentries (twice ncsize), then we know that dnlc_reduce_cache() is failing to keep up. In this case, we refuse to add new entries to the dnlc until the task queue catches up. Below is an example of DNLC statistics obtained with the kstat command.

# vmstat -s
        0 swap ins
        0 swap outs
        0 pages swapped in
        0 pages swapped out
   405332 total address trans. faults taken
  1015894 page ins
      353 page outs
  4156331 pages paged in
     1579 pages paged out
  3600535 total reclaims
  3600510 reclaims from free list
        0 micro (hat) faults
   405332 minor (as) faults
   645073 major faults
    85298 copy-on-write faults
   117161 zero fill page faults
        0 pages examined by the clock daemon
        0 revolutions of the clock hand
  4492478 pages freed by the clock daemon
     3205 forks
       88 vforks
     3203 execs
 33830316 cpu context switches
 58808541 device interrupts
   928719 traps
214191600 system calls
 14408382 total name lookups (cache hits 90%)
   263756 user    cpu
   462843 system  cpu
 14728521 idle    cpu
  2335699 wait    cpu

The hit ratio of the directory name cache shows the number of times a name was looked up and found in the name cache. A high hit ratio (>90%) typically shows that the DNLC is working well. A low hit ratio does not necessarily mean that the DNLC is undersized; it simply means that we are not always finding the names we want in the name cache. This situation can occur if we are creating a large number of files. The reason is that a create operation checks to see if a file exists before it creates the file, causing a large number of cache misses.

The DNLC statistics are also available with kstat.

   $ kstat -n dnlcstats
module: unix                            instance: 0
name:   dnlcstats                       class:    misc
        crtime                          208.832373709
        dir_add_abort                   0
        dir_add_max                     0
        dir_add_no_memory               0
        dir_cached_current              1
        dir_cached_total                13
        dir_entries_cached_current      880
        dir_fini_purge                  0
        dir_hits                        463
        dir_misses                      11240
        dir_reclaim_any                 8
        dir_reclaim_last                3
        dir_remove_entry_fail           0
        dir_remove_space_fail           0
        dir_start_no_memory             0
        dir_update_fail                 0
        double_enters                   6
        enters                          11618
        hits                            1347693
        misses                          10787
        negative_cache_hits             76686
        pick_free                       0
        pick_heuristic                  0
        pick_last                       0
        purge_all                       1
        purge_fs1                       0
        purge_total_entries             3013
        purge_vfs                       158
        purge_vp                        31
        snaptime                        94467.490008162

5.6.4 Block Buffer Cache

The buffer cache used in Solaris for caching of inodes and file metadata is now also dynamically sized. In old versions of UNIX, the buffer cache was fixed in size by the nbuf kernel parameter, which specified the number of 512-byte buffers. We now allow the buffer cache to grow by nbuf, as needed, until it reaches a ceiling specified by the bufhwm kernel parameter. By default, the buffer cache is allowed to grow until it uses 2% of physical memory. We can look at the upper limit for the buffer cache by using the sysdef command.

   # sysdef
* Tunable Parameters
 7757824        maximum memory allowed in buffer cache (bufhwm)
    5930        maximum number of processes (v.v_proc)
      99        maximum global priority in sys class (MAXCLSYSPRI)
    5925        maximum processes per user id (v.v_maxup)
      30        auto update time limit in seconds (NAUTOUP)
      25        page stealing low water mark (GPGSLO)
       5        fsflush run rate (FSFLUSHR)
      25        minimum resident memory for avoiding deadlock (MINARMEM)
      25        minimum swapable memory for avoiding deadlock (MINASMEM)

Now that we only keep inode and metadata in the buffer cache, we don't need a very large buffer. In fact, we need only 300 bytes per inode and about 1 megabyte per 2 gigabytes of files that we expect to be accessed concurrently (note that this rule of thumb is for UFS file systems).

For example, if we have a database system with 100 files totaling 100 gigabytes of storage space and we estimate that we will access only 50 gigabytes of those files at the same time, then at most we would need 100 x 300 bytes = 30 kilobytes for the inodes and about 50 ÷ 2 x 1 megabyte = 25 megabytes for the metadata (direct and indirect blocks). On a system with 5 gigabytes of physical memory, the defaults for bufhwm would provide us with a bufhwm of 102 megabytes, which is more than sufficient for the buffer cache. If we are really memory misers, we could limit bufhwm to 30 megabytes (specified in kilobytes) by setting the bufhwm parameter in the /etc/system file. To set bufhwm smaller for this example, we would put the following line into the /etc/system file.

* Limit size of bufhwm
set bufhwm=30000

You can monitor the buffer cache hit statistics by using sar -b. The statistics for the buffer cache show the number of logical reads and writes into the buffer cache, the number of physical reads and writes out of the buffer cache, and the read/write hit ratios.

   # sar -b 3 333
SunOS zangief 5.7 Generic sun4u    06/27/99

22:01:51 bread/s lread/s %rcache bwrit/s lwrit/s %wcache pread/s pwrit/s
22:01:54       0    7118     100       0       0     100       0       0
22:01:57       0    7863     100       0       0     100       0       0
22:02:00       0    7931     100       0       0     100       0       0
22:02:03       0    7736     100       0       0     100       0       0
22:02:06       0    7643     100       0       0     100       0       0
22:02:09       0    7165     100       0       0     100       0       0
22:02:12       0    6306     100       8      25      68       0       0
22:02:15       0    8152     100       0       0     100       0       0
22:02:18       0    7893     100       0       0     100       0       0

On this system we can see that the buffer cache is caching 100% of the reads and that the number of writes is small. This measurement was taken on a machine with 100 gigabytes of files that were being read in a random pattern. You should aim for a read cache hit ratio of 100% on systems with only a few, but very large, files (for example, database systems) and a hit ratio of 90% or better for systems with many files.

5.6.5 UFS Inode Cache

The UFS uses the ufs_ninode parameter to size the file system tables for the expected number of inodes. To understand how the ufs_ninode parameter affects the number of inodes in memory, we need to look at how the UFS maintains inodes. Inodes are created when a file is first referenced. They remain in memory much longer than when the file is last referenced because inodes can be in one of two states: either the inode is referenced or the inode is no longer referenced but is on an idle queue. Inodes are eventually destroyed when they are pushed off the end of the inode idle queue. Refer to Section 15.3.2 in Solaris Internals for a description of how ufs inodes are maintained on the idle queue.

The number of inodes in memory is dynamic. Inodes will continue to be allocated as new files are referenced. There is no upper bound to the number of inodes open at a time; if one million inodes are opened concurrently, then a little over one million inodes will be in memory at that point. A file is referenced when its reference count is non-zero, which means that either the file is open for a process or another subsystem such as the directory name lookup cache is referring to the file.

When inodes are no longer referenced (the file is closed and no other subsystem is referring to the file), the inode is placed on the idle queue and eventually freed. The size of the idle queue is controlled by the ufs_ninode parameter and is limited to one-fourth of ufs_ninode. The maximum number of inodes in memory at a given point is the number of active referenced inodes plus the size of the idle queue (typically, one-fourth of ufs_ninode). Figure 5.5 illustrates the inode cache.


Figure 5.5 In-Memory Inodes (Referred to as the "Inode Cache")

We can use the sar command and inode kernel memory statistics to determine the number of inodes currently in memory. sar shows us the number of inodes currently in memory and the number of inode structures in the inode slab cache. We can find similar information by looking at the buf_inuse and buf_total parameters in the inode kernel memory statistics.

   # sar -v 3 3

SunOS devhome 5.7 Generic sun4u    08/01/99

11:38:09  proc-sz    ov  inod-sz    ov  file-sz    ov   lock-sz
11:38:12  100/5930    0 37181/37181    0  603/603     0    0/0
11:38:15  100/5930    0 37181/37181    0  603/603     0    0/0
11:38:18  101/5930    0 37181/37181    0  607/607     0    0/0

# kstat -n ufs_inode_cache
buf_size 440 align 8 chunk_size 440 slab_size 8192 alloc 1221573 alloc_fail 0
free 1188468 depot_alloc 19957 depot_free 21230 depot_contention 18 global_alloc 48330
global_free 7823 buf_constructed 3325 buf_avail 3678 buf_inuse 37182

   buf_total 40860 buf_max 40860 slab_create 2270 slab_destroy 0 memory_class 0
hash_size 0 hash_lookup_depth 0 hash_rescale 0 full_magazines 219
empty_magazines 332 magazine_size 15 alloc_from_cpu0 579706 free_to_cpu0 588106
buf_avail_cpu0 15 alloc_from_cpu1 573580 free_to_cpu1 571309 buf_avail_cpu1 25

The inode memory statistics show us how many inodes are allocated by the buf_inuse field. We can also see from the ufs inode memory statistics that the size of each inode is 440 bytes on this system See below to find out the size of an inode on different architectures.

   # mdb -k
Loading modules: [ unix krtld genunix specfs dtrace ...]
> a$d
radix = 10 base ten
> ::sizeof inode_t
sizeof (inode_t) = 0t276
> $q

$ kstat unix::ufs_inode_cache:chunk_size
module: unix                            instance: 0
name:   ufs_inode_cache                 class:    kmem_cache
        chunk_size                      280

We can use this value to calculate the amount of kernel memory required for desired number of inodes when setting ufs_ninode and the directory name cache size.

The ufs_ninode parameter controls the size of the hash table that is used for inode lookup and indirectly sizes the inode idle queue (ufs_ninode ÷ 4). The inode hash table is ideally sized to match the total number of inodes expected to be in memory—a number that is influenced by the size of the directory name cache. By default, ufs_ninode is set to the size of the directory name cache, which is approximately the correct size for the inode hash table. In an ideal world, we could set ufs_ninode to four-thirds the size of the DNLC, to take into account the size of the idle queue, but practice has shown this to be unnecessary.

We typically set ufs_ninode indirectly by setting the directory name cache size (ncsize) to the expected number of files accessed concurrently, but it is possible to set ufs_ninode separately in /etc/system.

* Set number of inodes stored in UFS inode cache
set ufs_ninode = new_value

5.6.6 Monitoring UFS Caches with fcachestat

We can monitor all four key UFS caches by using a single Perl tool: fcachestat. This tool measures the DNLC, inode, UFS buffer cache (metadata), and page cache by means of segmap.

   $ ./fcachestat 5
  --- dnlc ---     -- inode ---     -- ufsbuf --     -- segmap --
 %hit    total    %hit    total    %hit    total    %hit    total
99.64   693.4M   59.46     4.9M   99.80    94.0M   81.39   118.6M
66.84    15772   28.30     6371   98.44     3472   82.97     9529
63.72    27624   21.13    12482   98.37     7435   74.70    14699
10.79    14874    5.64    16980   98.45    12349   93.44    11984
11.96    13312   11.89    14881   98.37    10004   93.53    10478
 4.08    20139    5.71    25152   98.42    17917   97.47    16729
 8.25    17171    3.57    20737   98.38    15054   93.64    11154
15.40    12151    6.89    13393   98.37     9403   93.14    11941
 8.26     9047    4.51    10899   98.26     7861   94.70     7186
66.67        6    0.00        3   95.45       44   44.44       18
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For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020