Getting Started With a CERF Free Trial

Getting started using a special, free single user edition of CERF. To protect your privacy, the collaboration features and our proprietary “Find Experts” search are disabled on this trial server. We can, on request, upgrade your access role, user capabilities or group membership to allow you to try some of the more advanced features and collaborative workflows. Contact Lab-Ally support for details.

For best results with the AWS cloud-based demo server you will need a fast internet connection, ideally over 100 mbps.

Download the CERF Desktop App for your OS from this page:

To access the download site, enter the password: labally2024

Note that these are links to current release version of CERF 5.3 which was formally released May 2024. You can also download the CERF Automaton and Exporter applications from this site. See documentation for details.

Create a User Account

Create a user account on the demo server if you do not already have one:

Fill in the fields on that page to create a new account for yourself.


Connect to CERF

Open the CERF Desktop Client application you installed earlier.

When you first launch CERF, you will need to tell CERF what server to connect to.

Click on “Edit Servers” and enter the following information:

Server Name:
Server Address:
Server Port:


Your “Edit Servers” window should look something like this:

Edit Servers dialog

Click OK and you will be taken back to the Log In dialog.

You should see a GREEN indicator next to the name of the server in the login window

If you see a RED indicator associated with the server in your login window, it probably means that access to the CERF server is being blocked by a firewall from your current location. CERF requires access to ports 443 and 61616.

If you are at work, try logging in from home, or contact your work IT team and ask them to adjust the firewall to allow you to connect to CERF. You can also email for additional assistance.

Login to CERF

Use the login information you created in Signup for CERF step above. Most CERF servers will prompt you to change your password as soon as you log in for the first time. However, the trial server is configured to skip that step.

The amazon server is a demo server that is updated and wiped clean frequently.

CERF will then open. Click the document icon in the top left to see the CERF tree. You should see just one file cabinet loaded initially with the same name as your username. Only you can see the content of that file cabinet. You can now drag files from your computer into that file cabinet and start exploring CERF functionality. If you choose to digitally sign anything, the default digital signature password for trial accounts is simply “password”. The digital password is different than your login password and can be changed by clicking on the Manage Account button from the Sessions Menu.

High resolution Windows Computers

If you are using a Windows device that has a very high resolution display, and the CERF window is too small to be usable, you can adjust your settings as described here.

Option One:

You can adjust the Display Profile for the computer to a different resolution that is not a 1.5 ratio. For example, 3000×2000 resolution has a ratio of 1.5, while 2560×1600 has a ratio of 1.6. Changing the display resolution affects all programs and likely satisfactory for most use cases.

Option Two:

The user can override the High DPI settings compatibility mode for CERF Desktop application separately. (Note: the user may need an IT Administrator to adjust these settings)

  1. Locate the CERF Desktop application:  C:\Program Files\Lab-Ally\CERF\CERF Client\cerf-client.exe
  2. Right-click on the application and choose Properties.
  3. In the Compatibility tab, click the “Change high DPI settings” button
  4. In the High DPI Settings dialog, enable the checkbox for “Override high DPI scaling behavior” and choose “System (Enhanced)” from the drop down
  5. Click OK in both dialog boxes and open CERF Desktop as normal.

Getting Help

To help you get started quickly we suggest you use the CERF Help menu > Help Contents to open CERF Online Help ( in a browser. If you use the CERF help menu to do this, you should be automatically logged in.

Once you have opened CERF Online Help browse to User Manual > CERF Desktop App, then select a topic to learn more.

You may also find the following PDF document useful: Getting Started With CERF

Note that by default this account has been setup to allow you to try out the basic system features as a single isolated user. Collaborative features are disabled. This user belongs to a single workgroup with just one member, has not been configured to invite or collaborate with other users on the server, and cannot perform any oversight or or administrative tasks. Please contact us if you want us to create one or more workgroups for you so that you can try CERF’s multi-user, collaborative or administrative features.


Questions? Please email