I'm putting antivirus software on Windows 7 computers in the middle of Africa. The computers don't have internet access, but still need to be protected against viruses from CDs and thumbdrives. Separate from these computers is one computer that does have extremely spotty internet access.

What's the best AV software for this situation? The important part, as I see it, is that we need to keep the computers up to date, but can't let the AV software suck down updates at its leisure: the computers are disconnected, and getting emails onto the connected computer is a challenge enough.

We thought we might transfer update files to the connected computer using a protocol that can handle repeated connection drops (e.g. FTP with resume.) Then we'd manually apply the update files to the disconnected computers.

Does any AV software support this? Is there a better solution?

Update: Several AV systems support downloading an entire virus definition file, but that's too heavyweight to get to Africa via the spotty internet connection. We'd need support for manual downloading of incremental update files.

4 Answers 4


I know that AVG Free allows you to download and manually install updates, as does Spybot S&D.

Also, I don't know a whole lot about it, but this sounds like a really good application for a torrenting protocol. It is designed for this kinda thing and plus if the connection to local(internet) computers is dependable but not to computers far away(like, USA and whatnot) then this may allow you to setup an ad hoc P2P network so that when one of their computers gets the update downloaded then it can share it everywhere else without having to download it from such a remote location.

  • Earlz, that's great! So the update file is a standalone file that I could download in the States, email (or whatever) over to Africa, and then apply? And yes, we'll probably set up something better than a manual solution; I left out that part to simplify the question. Thanks for your additional suggestion! May 13, 2010 at 20:05

You might be interested in AVast.

I don't know if it allows the files to be distributed offline, but I do remember that individual updates are optimized for dial-up and are exceptionally small compared to other anti-virus software: on the order of 20-40KB rather than 2-4MB. That would make easier to pull updates down from the one connected machine.

A quick google search shows others have been successful in doing this with AVast:
Unfortunately, these updates look like they download the complete package every time, rather than the small incremental package that made AVast attractive in the first place. i also saw reports on their forums of people copying the incremental updates from the one connected system via thumb drive. It would take more research to make sure it works, though.

  • Thanks, Joel, I'll look into attempting incremental updates thru AVast. May 13, 2010 at 20:33
  • Unless someone can find another AV system that officially supports manual download of incremental packages, this is going to be the only viable answer, so I'll Accept it. Could you add the link to the forum posts that you found? May 13, 2010 at 20:38

Symantec Anti Virus Corporate Edition and Symantec Endpoint Protection will support this. A single file can be dowmloaded to the one with Interent and distributed to the other systems


Microsoft Security Essentials can be moved onto an unconnected computer, installed, and opened, however it will not run unless is has a "current" update of virus definitions. The virus definitions and updates can be downloaded and instructions can be read here on how to do it


I say "current" because MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials) doesn't update itself online and doesn't check for the updates, and in your case is not an issue. Once you update MSE once with the definitions, it will not prompt you to do so again and will run without a problem. So download MSE for free at Microsoft and download the definitions and update MSE once and it will give you protection offline. As the computers will not be exposed to the most current viruses, the one time update should be sufficient, but at anytime you can update again easily.

I also know for a fact that MSE includes an option to scan every USB and CD before it allows access to the rest computer. I have scanned several Flash drives and found viruses. Hope this helps.

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