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VirusScan FAQs

What is a "Dat" file?

Each virus has a unique string of code that becomes its "signature" - a Dat file is the library of viruses' signatures. It is important to keep the Dat file current to ensure that the software is protecting the computer against new viruses.

There are really three files, CLEAN.DAT, NAMES.DAT and SCAN.DAT. These files are the virus signature (Dat) files that provide virus information to the VirusScan software.

Network Associates updates the Dat files approximately once a week.

What is a "Superdat" file?

Some of the recent viruses have required upgrades (to the VirusScan engine) as well as updates (to the virus signatures) for the software to disinfect the protected machine. The Superdat provides both upgrades and updates in a single step. You should get into the habit of using the Superdat for all of your Dat updates, because any new virus may require an engine upgrade. A Superdat is always released when an updated Dat file is released.

Why update the software?

Viruses or other malicious programs can:

  • erase data that is stored on the machine
  • alter data and invalidate research
  • steal data and send it to someone else
  • waste computer resources and interfere with your ability to do your work

New viruses come out every day and machines are vulnerable when they are not up-to-date. Once a machine is compromised it can be used to compromise colleagues' machines.

Can I use a Superdat for scheduled Upgrades?

Yes. To do so, follow these instructions.

Can this software be loaded on machines used for NIH work at home?

Yes, you may install this software on your home machine. See your system administrator or your institute's Information System Security Officer (ISSO) for your ICO's policies.

General Installation Hints

Make sure that no other virus scanning software is loaded or installed on the machine. If the machine has had other antivirus (AV) software installed make sure that the software is completely uninstalled (use the add/remove programs in the control panel, or the uninstall program provided with the software).

Run the installation of the scan engine first, and then either run an automatic update of the Dat files or manually update the Dat files. Both the install, and the Dat update, need to be completed to have current software.

You can download your AV software, and keep it up-to-date, go to Software downloads.

How do I install the software?

View the instructions for installing and configuring VirusScan software.

How Can I Receive an Email notification when this site is updated?

Subscribe to the Antivirus list:

Send an email to

  • Leave the Subject line empty
  • In the body of the message put:
    sub Antivirus list Your Name

Or go to and register for the Antivirus List

Where can I get NAI's Admin and Installation guides for VirusScan 7.0 and ePO 3.0?

The guides are located here.

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This page last reviewed: September 06, 2012