Licensing Information

Licence Agreement

Manage Your CSD Licence Online

CSD Data and Software Licensing

A licence is required to use the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD) data and software — even our free software.

The exact terms of your licence will vary. If you require specific terms, please reach out to discuss with us.

Here you can find some useful links and resources to learn about CSD data and software licences, but you can always contact us if your question is not answered here.


Licensing FAQs

You can download Mercury for Windows, Linux or MacOS from the CSDS Downloads page. Click the Details link for the version you need for brief installation instructions. We recommend uninstalling older versions of Mercury before installing the current version, and on Linux you need to make the installer executable before running it.

Before Mercury can be run it must be activated. For the free version, go to the CSD-Community tab in the activation tool and click ‘Activate’. The activation tool should pop up automatically the first time Mercury is launched. It can also be run manually if required – its location depends on your operating system. Here <INSTALLDIR> refers to the directory where Mercury was installed.

  • Windows: <INSTALLDIR>\Software Activation\ccdc_activator_gui.exe
  • Linux: <INSTALLDIR>/software_activation/ccdc_activator_gui
  • Mac: <INSTALLDIR>/Software_Activation/CCDC-Software-Activation

CCDC licence details consist of

  • customer number (a whole number, up to 6 digits)
  • An activation key (6 blocks of 6 characters, for example 65A31B-C7EB88-466D81-5ECE60-46BA10-BD9807)

Standalone Mercury can be used without an activation key – see How do I download and install the free version of Mercury?

The software is licensed to organisations (universities and companies) rather than individuals. When a new licence is set up, the customer number and activation key are sent to a designated member of staff referred to as the “CCDC contact”. When a licence is renewed the customer number and activation key will normally remain unchanged. If a new activation key is needed for any reason it will be sent to the CCDC contact.

In the first instance please ask your local CCDC contact for your customer number and activation key. If you do not know who they are please email 
who will be able to put you in touch with them. If you are the contact you can also ask  for a reminder of your licence details.

The CCDC licence portal allows you to view your current licence information and also obtain a list of all activations that have been carried out, including when the activation occurred and the hostname of the system the licence was activated on.

To access the licence portal, click on the above link. If you are not already you will need to log in to the CCDC website. Then enter the customer id and activation key details for the licence you want to review.

The licence portal will also allow you to carry out an offline activation if you need to – for details see this FAQ.

If you have opted to activate the software after installation, there are a few options available to you. The simplest method for activating the software is through the CCDC Software Activation tool. The tool can be found in:

Windows: <INSTALLDIR>\CSD_2022\Software Activation

MacOS: <INSTALLDIR>/CSD_2022

Linux: <INSTALLDIR>/CSD_2022/bin

Activate via CCDC Software Activation Tool

To start the graphical interface, double click on ccdc_activator_gui. Enter your 36-character activation key in the Activate Online tab.

You can generate an offline activation request using the Software Activation tool. More information on offline activation can be found in this FAQ.

Activate using the Command Line

If you do not have a graphical display or would prefer to activate the software from the command line, start a command prompt and navigate to the folder with the Software Activation tool. Run the ccdc_activator command line tool with the following arguments:

Windows: ccdc_activator.exe -a -k 123456-123456-123456-123456-123456-123456

MacOS: ./CCDC-Software-Activation.app/Contents/MacOS/ccdc_activator.x -a -k 123456-123456-123456-123456-123456-123456

Linux: bin/ccdc_activator -a -k 123456-123456-123456-123456-123456-123456

where 123456-123456-123456-123456-123456-123456 is the licence key provided by CCDC.

Activate by Connecting to a Local Licence Server

If your organisation has an unlimited licence, there is a local licence server option. The command to activate the software by connecting to an existing local licence server is e.g.

ccdc_activator.exe -s http://myserver:1234

Ask your local CCDC contact for the hostname and port number to use in place of “myserver” and “1234”.

If you are a system administrator and would like to set up a local licence server, please send a request to  with your 36-character activation key and the operating system you intend to install the server on.

Customers using a local licence server should be aware that they retain their standard node-locked licence key and that for some machines (particularly laptops) it may be best to continue using this key.

Connecting to a local licence server is recommended in the following circumstances.

  • Home directory shared between computers. Standard node-locked licensing stores a “fingerprint” of the computer in the user’s home directory, which will cause the licence check to fail when the software is run on another computer.
  • HPC / Cluster / Cloud computing. In addition to the issue above with shared home directories, activating each node individually could exceed the 999-activations limit for “unlimited” licences. With a licence server the limit is on how many nodes can run the software simultaneously.
  • Non-persistent virtual machines. Virtual machines without a consistent fingerprint should be configured to use a local licence server to avoid each VM taking up multiple activations.

Node-locked licensing is recommended for machines which will be used offline or where they are unable to connect to the local licence server (for example, because it is only accessible from the company VPN). Once a machine has been activated with a node-locked licence, it will continue to work offline until the licence expires.