You’ve probably come across md5sums while downloading files from the web, such as this long list pertaining to Open Office 3 and wondered what they’re good for.
md5sum is a quick and easy way to verify that the ISO files you download aren’t corrupted somehow. For example, I have NAS at home and some people with the same box has complained that it corrupts files randomly. Whenever I copy one or more files I calculate the md5 sums on the source and destination to make sure there’s no corruption. Hopefully it’s just the other guys who have a bad network.
MD5 typically calculates a 32 digit hexadecimal number from whatever you input. It can be a string (text), a file or encryption. However, it is not considered a secure encryption method any longer. Think of it as a 32 piece fingerprint of your file. If any two files have the same md5 sum they’re identical.
In most GNU/Linux, BSD and Mac OS operative systems you’ll find that md5 is installed by default. There’s two easy ways to run it in Windows: command line or graphical right-click context menu option. First things first.
CLI md5sum for windows
- Download md5sum.exe to C:Windows or C:Winnt
- Hit Start->Run, enter CMD and hit ENTER
- Navigate to the file(s) you need to check and run ‘md5sum <filename>’
Graphic md5sum by digestIT
- Go and grab a 32-bit or 64-bit copy of DigestIT 2004 depending on your OS
- Unpack the file and run the MSI file
- Right-click the file you want to check and select either a) Calculate md5 hash or b) Verify md5 hash – to compare with a previously copied md5 sum
If you download ISO files this is an essential tool. Whenever something goes wrong the first step would be to check the md5sums of your files and compare them to the download site’s. In fact, you’re better off doing it before you even try to burn it. Happy hashing!