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md5sum is a computer program that calculates and verifies 128-bit MD5 hashes, as described in RFC 1321. The MD5 hash (or checksum) functions as a compact digital fingerprint of a file. It is extremely unlikely that any two non-identical files existing in the real world will have the same MD5 hash (although as with all such hashing algorithms, there are an unlimited number of files that will have any given MD5 hash).

Because almost any change to a file will cause its MD5 hash to also change, the MD5 hash is commonly used to verify the integrity of files (i.e., to verify that a file has not changed as a result of file transfer, disk error, meddling, etc.). The md5sum program is installed by default in most Unix, Linux, and Unix-like operating systems or compatibility layers. BSD variants (including Mac OS X) have a similar utility called md5. Versions for Microsoft Windows do exist (see external links).

A cryptanalytic attack on the MD5 algorithm has been found[1] [2], which means a method has been found to calculate a file that will have a given md5sum in less than the time required for a brute force attack. Although it would still be quite computationally expensive to construct such a file, md5sum should not be used in situations where security is important (such as cryptographic hashing). It is still useful for general-purpose file integrity verification, such as protecting against random bit flips.


[edit] Checking for validity

To see if a given file is valid, pass the output of a previous md5sum run with the switch -c. Thus, the following two steps occur:

  1. Compute the MD5 sum and store it in a file using md5sum file > file.md5
  2. Check for validity with md5sum -c file.md5

If file is not present, omitting the file parameter or passing a - reads from standard input.

[edit] References

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

  • The program's man page
  • md5sum - An implementation for Microsoft Windows
  • md5Summer - A GUI md5sum utility for Microsoft Windows
  • digestIT 2004 - An MD5/SHA-1 utility integrated into Windows Explorer
  • Microsoft File Checksum Integrity Verifier
  • SlavaSoft FSUM - Fast File Integrity Checker
  • FileFormat.Info - Online Hash Function Generator
  • febooti fileTweak Hash & CRC - is a Windows cryptographic hash value calculator that allows computing MD5 and other popular checksums.
  • JSummer - a platform independent open source message digest tool for Unix/Linux and Windows with a GUI supporting MD5Sum and other algorithms.
  • MD5 Command Line Message Digest Utility - A command line utility usable on either Unix or MS-DOS/Windows, which generates and verifies message digests (digital signatures) using the MD5 algorithm.
  • cfv - utility to test and create .sfv, .csv, .crc, .md5(sfv-like), md5sum, bsd md5, sha1sum, and .torrent files.
  • HashCheck - Open-source Windows shell extension that adds MD5 checksum viewing, creation and verification to Windows Explorer.
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