Andrew McLean, 3 September 2004

Sophos Anti-virus (SAV) is a proprietary anti-virus program, which is mainly marketed to large organisations. The license purchased by my employer allows the use of the software by employees on their personal computers at home. I believe these terms are typical. Unfortunately, although it is in many respects a very nice program, the basic version of SAV does not provide for automated updating over the Internet, instead a tedious manual process is required. I have written a program, for the Windows implementation of the Sophos Anti-Virus, that automates this manual process.

This program determines the installed version of SAV, checks whether there are new virus definitions (IDE files) available on the Sophos web site, downloads and installs them if appropriate. Note, although the program does download and install new IDE files, it is still necessary to manually install new versions of the program at least every 3 months.

DISCLAIMER. The program is licensed under the GNU Public License and is provided with no warranty. A number of people have used the program sucessfully for a number of months, but it does rely on various undocumented aspects of the SAV software and layout of the Sophos web site, any of which could change at any time, without notice.


Installing the software is straighforward, download it here, run the installation program, and follow the instructions.

Basic use

When first run (without any command line options) the program produces output similar to the following:

UpdateSophos v1.34 Copyright 2002-2003 Andrew McLean
UpdateSophos comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.
This is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it
under certain conditions. See the file COPYING for details.
SWEEPNT version 3.85 detected
No proxy detected
No metadata for a local copy of archive file.
Retrieving new archive file...
New copy of archive file last modified: Thu, 02 Sep 2004 10:13:54 GMT
Extracting: rbot-hu.ide
Extracting: rbot-mg.ide
Extracting: rbot-ht.ide
Extracting: bagle-at.ide
Extracting: rbot-hr.ide
Extracting: rbot-hq.ide
Extracting: bagled-a.ide
Extracting: rbot-ho.ide
Extracting: rbot-hi.ide
Restarting Sweep services...
Press key to exit

Advanced use

There are a few command line options, which can be used by the advanced user. These are specifically designed for scheduled unattended operation.

usage: UpdateSophos.exe [options]
   -h, --help show this help message and exit
   -n, --nostop Do not pause for a keypress when complete
   -lFILE, --log=FILE write log to FILE


In some environments, direct access to the Internet is not available, and access to the web (http, port 80) must be made through a proxy server. The program will attempt to determine if a proxy server is configured for use by Internet Explorer and use this. The use of a specific proxy can be forced by setting the http_proxy environment variable.

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