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Tool Spotlight: HashCalc

When downloading files such as ISO’s and network gear firmware it is essential to ensure the file is not corrupted. To help with this, download sites will often provide an algorithm hash that was completed against the original file. After downloading the file you will use the same hash method and hopefully have and identical solution.

MD5 and SHA-1 have been the de facto hash methods available where I normally get files (MD5 shouldn’t be used anymore, but that’s another discussion). CRC32 is another one you may see.

If you use Microsoft Windows operating systems there is no build-in way to verify the hash of a downloaded file. I use a utility called HashCalc to perform this simple function. Here is the description off the HashCalc website:

A fast and easy-to-use calculator that allows to compute message digests, checksums and HMACs for files, as well as for text and hex strings. It offers a choice of 13 of the most popular hash and checksum algorithms for calculations.

Since it supports MD5 and SHA1 it covers 95% of what I need. For the few places that use other hash algorithms this program has still worked for me.

Use of the program is simple enough. Here are the steps:

  1. Choose your data file by browsing to it.
  2. Place a check in front of the algorithm to be used.
  3. Click Calculate.
  4. The output will be shown.

A few things to remember when using HashCalc:

  • Don’t choose all possible algorithms. This will work, but may lock up your computer! Performing hash checks is very CPU intensive!
  • While Windows XP is the last supported OS on their website. I can confirm the program works on Win7 64-bit.
  • I have a colleague who uses HashTab. He says this is a great way to add functionality to Windows Explorer. I have not verified that however.

It may seem unnecessary to do this for network gear such as Cisco and Juniper devices (because you can check the hash right on the device). However, you may be in a situation where you download the file and then bring it to a client site with a thumb drive. It would sure be nice to know before you leave the file is good.


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  1. April 16, 2013 at 12:42

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  2. April 27, 2013 at 00:40

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  3. May 8, 2013 at 07:31

    this could apply.

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