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Dated: Apr. 03, 2013

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The hash function is a way of mapping a collection of information that can be various lengths in other values of fixed length. The values that the hash function gives are called hash values, codes, sums, checksums or simply hashes. MD5 is a cryptographic hash algorithm, which means that it takes information of arbitrary length and creates fixed lengths for it, a cryptographic hash value, in a  way that any change of data (accidental or on purpose) leads to the change of that value. The algorithm MD5 creates a 128 –bit hash value and it is used in a number of safety applications and for checking the validity of data. Concretely, MD5 hash has a wide range of use in checking if the files, forwarded in some way, arrived intact. A mere comparison of size and name of the files is not enough of a guarantee to confirm the authenticity of the files, especially when it comes to important data.

One of the common cases when you need to check a file is during the transfer from a server. It is common that the server together with the files includes the already calculated hash value for it, so it is enough to compare that value with the one that you will calculate with this algorithm and see if the file was changed. Of course, that kind of checking is not crucial if you are downloading a program or damaged text file that can easily be downloaded again. But, if you are a programmer whose application is downloading files connected to the database through an automated process it is very important to check if everything went alright. While the Unix based systems natively support the MD5 hashing, in Windows you need to reach out for third party applications. If you are a programmer, it is not hard to find finished libraries, and if you need a file checking in every day work, you can find programs with graphic interface.
MD5 File HasherMD5 file hasher is program that is easy to use. With it, it is not difficult to make a list of file that you want to calculate the MD5 hash values with the drag & drop technique. Those values can be saved for future checking, and you can also check if the received code matches the code you got earlier. The values that you created (calculated) for the chosen files can be checked in set time intervals, arbitrary, daily, monthly and when starting the system. In that way you monitor the checking of files that are important to you or, for example, files from a Windows folder whose changes can indicate the existence of a virus in the system.
You can add single files and folders in the list and set if you want to check sub folders. Unfortunately, the scheduling of the checking with the report needs an upgraded version, the Pro. Next to checking if there are files that have been altered, the program can detect new and deleted files. With the Pro version you will rewarded with the use of a filter, which can limit the folder checking to the extension files you choose. The results can be shown in the form of a text and in that way makes your record keeping easier.


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