Windows built-in checksum for file integrity

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It is very important to perform a file checksum on files you download from the internet on your PC to insure that the contents of the files being downloaded have preserved their integrity from the source to your device.To ensure the integrity of a file, many websites display the MD5 or SHA value near the download link of a file or a program. MD5 or SHA family hashes are set of random strings that allow users to make sure that the file being downloaded is not tampered with.

Windows 10 and also Windows 7 come with a built-in file checksum feature which is simple enough for an everyday Windows user to utilize. In order to perform a file checksum, first head over on the website where you want to download your file from and note down the hash value given near the download link. After downloading the file, note down the file location on your computer where you downloaded the file to. Once done, open up the command prompt and enter the following:

CertUtil -hashfile <path to file> MD5

This may take a few seconds to run the calculation but if successful the MD5 hash will be displayed as below.

Windows 10 Command Prompt

You can also generate check sums using other hash algorithms by replacing the MD5 switch in the above command and replace it with either MD2, MD4, SHA1, SHA256, SHA384 or SHA512.

Match the hash produced by the checksum you just ran in the command prompt against the hash found on the website you downloaded the file from and if it matches then the file integrity has remained intact.

Safe downloading out there!

Flatiron school Cyber security analytics graduate