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Never come across anything weird with the /f switch. You would only use it in situations where all other methods of updating fail as it "forcefully" rips out old stuff and puts new stuff in place (engine + dat). It should only be used in troubleshooting scenarios for single machines, not in scripts which are applied across a whole enterprise for example. So, use with caution.
An SDAT always contains engine and DAT, XDATs are "DAT package installers" so contain no engine. The SDAT is 64 bit compatible (it wasn't always), since early 2011 if I remember correctly.
Buffer Overflow and Access Protection DATs are delivered with product updates in most cases, there have been 2 or so occasions when BOC Dat updates were put on the usual updater websites, but its rare to use this avenue for updates of the BOC Dats.
Cheers for the feedback,
Main reason I am asking is that the manual application of the SDAT files is required for one of our sites, and the error I got in https://community.mcafee.com/message/225652 looks to be aesthetic. As another team will be applying these updates, I will need to let them know that they may see this error (when not using /f), and can ignore it, or tell them to always use /f which completes smoothly.