Best Free Hash Utility



Focusing on the use of hashing for the validation of a data stream against published hashes, there are a number of useful programs that provide this functionality. Essentially, these programs 1) must be easy to use, 2) must accurately compute hashes according to published algorithms, and 3) must present the information in a usable form. It is not important whether hashing is the primary purpose of the software or just an incidental feature of a broader application. What is important is that a useful capability is provided attended with as little "noise" (bugs and fluff) as possible.

The programs reviewed here provide three levels of functionality:

  • Programs that compute hashes.
  • Programs that also provide hash validation.
  • Programs that also include a database of hashes for revalidation.

The reviewed applications implement their user interfaces in one of three ways:

  • Windows console application (DOS command line).
  • Windows Explorer context menu entry.
  • Windows Explorer property page tab.

It cannot really be said that any one of these approaches is better than the others because each provides its own capabilities. A console application, for example, allows for scripting and ad-hoc programming that is not possible with graphical applications, but its user interface is somewhat limited. A Windows Explorer context menu entry provides quick access to a full-scale application, but this also switches the user to a new application context. An Explorer property page tab offers a handy and familiar access to program controls without context switching, but the small physical window size places constraints on application features.

See also: What is Hashing? and Technical Discussion at the end of this article.


Rated Products


Calculate and display hash values from over two dozen popular hashing algorithms like MD5, SHA1, SHA2, RipeMD, HAVAL and Whirlpool.

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Private/Educational use)
Works in a tab of the Windows Explorer file property page. Computes hashes for fifteen algorithms. Allows direct comparison of any hash that can be pasted in thus obviating the need for error prone visual comparison. Provides a file comparison feature that permits direct hash comparisons with another file.
The file comparison feature could have been done better. It only compares the file against the first hash in the list, and there is no easy way to get it to use another. You have to remove all hashes that come before the one you want to use and then find the file to compare. If you change the selected algorithms after a file has been selected for comparison, the file name field is blanked out so that you have to get the file again. Does not work (tab is missing) when multiple files are selected.
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A clean, fast and reliable application performing hash algorithms including MD5, SHA1 and SHA-2.

Our Rating: 
License: Free
Modern UI design, clean dashboard; fast and reliable; hash many files at once with drag & drop; modern hash algorithms support; manual and automatic calculations.
Support major algorithms but fewer than those supported by Hashtab.
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Compute hashes for a single file, a group of files or an entire file system using CRC, MD5, and SHA-1.

Our Rating: 
License: Free
Full-scale Windows application. Computes hashes for individual files, multiple files, or entire file systems. Can compare files to hashes in the clipboard as well as to other selected files. Highlights duplicate files when an entire file system is loaded. Hooks into Explorer context menu for quick access to the program window. Can minimize to the system tray. Can create an HTML report of results as well as result files in various formats. Column list is customizable.
Only MD5 and SHA1 algorithms are computed. Behavior problems with later versions of Windows. Match highlights are in very pale colors that may be difficult to see on some monitors.
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HashCheck Shell Extension  

An open source program employs a Windows property page tab as its user interface and computes hashes using CRC, MD4, MD5 and SHA-1.

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Open source)
Employ a Windows property tab as its user interface, computes hashes using CRC, MD4, MD5 and SHA-1, work on single files, multiple files and whole file systems, save computed hashes to a text file for later revalidation.
Very large files can take a minute to hash, a separate file is required to save the hashes for a given algorithm, some other useful features could be improved.
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Febooti Hash & CRC  

Works as a tab on the file property page and computes MD5, SHA-1, CRC32 and other popular hash checksums of files.

Our Rating: 
License: Free
Works in a tab of the Windows Explorer file property page. Computes hashes with fifteen different algorithms including those described above. It is easy to change hash selections and recompute. If multiple files are selected, it is possible to switch between the selected files to compute hashes for each one. There is a simple mechanism for copying computed hashes to the clipboard.
No comparison feature. To check computed hashes against another file, you must compute the hashes for each file separately, paste the results into a text document, and then visually compare them.
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Microsoft File Checksum Integrity Verifier  

A console application with a unique capability to create a database of hashes for many files through an entire file system.

Our Rating: 
License: Free
Can be used to create a database of computed hashes and revalidate against it.
Only MD5 and SHA1 algorithms are supported. Only works in a command window. The program's options are difficult to understand and use effectively, and the help provided is of limited usefulness as it has some inaccuracies.
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More Hash Programs

Here are some more hash programs. I haven't downloaded them yet, but here's the info I got off their websites.

  • Hasher is a Windows application that computes MD5, SHA-1/224/256/384/512 hashes of a text string, disk file, or group of files. Hasher can save hash values to disk for future verification. Informative website. VB6 source code available. Visual Basic runtime required.
  • HashCalc is a Windows application that computes MD-2/4/5, SHA-1/256/384/512, RIPEMD-160, PANAMA, TIGER, ADLER32, CRC32, and eDonkey/eMule hashes of a text string or disk file. Doesn't look like it supports hash comparison.
  • FSUM is a command-line application that computes MD-2/4/5, SHA-1/256/384/512, RIPEMD-160, PANAMA, TIGER, ADLER32, CRC32, and eDonkey/eMule hashes of one or more disk files. It can compare hashes against a list and recurse subdirectories.
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What is Hashing?

Hashing is the process of computing a fixed-length string (called a "message digest") from a data stream usually for the purpose of validating, authenticating, or digitally signing that stream. The stream could be a disk file, an email message, or packets of data in network transport. Hashing is not encryption because the message digest cannot readily be transformed back into the original data from which it was computed. Instead, hashing is a mechanism for representing a block of data in a predictable way by the use of a standard, public algorithm.

The usefulness of hashing arises partly from the ease with which message digests can be computed and partly from the fact that no two data streams should ever produce the same message digest. These characteristics suggest some important uses to which hashing algorithms can be put.

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Technical Discussion

For those who are interested in knowing more about the various hashing algorithms in use, a technical discussion of these algorithms and their possible uses follows.

There are several hashing algorithms in common use having different purposes and varying degrees of reliability for error detection, data validation, and cryptographic security. Common algorithms include Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC), Message Digest (MD), Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA), RACE Integrity Primitives Evaluation Message Digest (RIPEMD), and Whirlpool.

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This software review is maintained by volunteer editor Albert E. Lyngzeidetson, Ph.D.. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.

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Average: 4.4 (33 votes)


A thoroughly functional and productivity-enhancing hash generator/comparator is QuickHash. This is another product from Nick Shaw (Foolish IT) who has given us d7 and CryptoPrevent. It is portable, fast and feature rich. From its own page []:
"QuickHash is a utility to quickly display the MD5, SHA1, SHA256, SHA384, SHA512, (and SHA3 in v2.x) hashes of any selected file, and optionally compare the hashes with any hash string."

"QuickHash comes in two versions:
v1.x – does not require the .NET Framework (suitable for usage in older Windows operating systems such as Windows XP – Windows 7 that may not have the .NET Framework installed, and also WinPE environments) but may hang or report invalid data on files approaching 2GB in size.
v2.x – adds the newest SHA3 hash support in addition to supporting files greater than 2GB in size, but requires the .NET 4 Client Profile (this is already installed by default on Windows versions 8.0 and newer.)"

"New Features in QuickHash v2.x
Ability to select and hash multiple files within a single tabbed interface
Ability to enable/disable hash calculations per hash type (click on text box area to calculate/recalculate on demand)
Ability to submit malicious files to Foolish IT for review (allowing hash definition creation for use within our other products such as CryptoPrevent Malware Prevention, dFunk (d7II PC Technician Software), KillEmAll v5, etc.)
Display the time in seconds it took to calculate the hash type
Built in updating feature
Added optional debug logging information
Using a config file to save settings for portability"

"License for all versions of QuickHash
QuickHash is FREE for both personal and commercial usage."

Short note:
the link to hashtab doesn't work

ah well .. neither which is the 'More" button on their website... nor the screenshots - error: the requested content cannot be loaded...

to obtain the file you need to enter your email
also it says, under 'Next steps'
" Once you have installed HashTab, just right click on any file "

sofar I used Igorware hasher

it really is very flexible: you can copy a SHA-1 string to clipboard, run igorware hasher and it automatically compares to clipboard.
it is portable.
Regretfully...! It does not support SHA-256.

It supports SHA-256, SHA-384, SHA-512 as well
Version 1.80: Added support for SHA-256 and SHA-512 hashes.
Version 1.85: Added support for SHA-384 hashes.

As for myself: I am still looking for a tool, similar to Igorware Hasher
(small, portable, compare file to a string in clipboard .. -with- SHA-256 support)

You could try DP Hash ( )which is portable and supports 34 hash algorithms. One drawback is that it doesn't support drag & drop.

Another is Hasher Lite ( ) which is portable too. This program supports drag & drop and SHA-256 as well. It is free for private/personal use.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I'll look into it and see what can be done to correct the problem. If it can't be, I'll remove the listing. Sorry for the inconvenience to you. I agree with you on Igorware Hasher -- very nice app. I'm presently researching 'One Way Accumulators' -- these are one way Hash functions that don't need a CA. I'll be posting some info on these soon. All the Best, CryptoSurfer

I'm looking for a utility to validate the integrity of my archived photos and detect bit rot. I'd like the program to store the checksum in the file properties, unless that would invalidate the checksum. If it does invalidate the checksum, then simply saving to a new file. The next feature is to run validation tests on a schedule, detecting bit rot and alerting me. The ideal solution will also have parity information so the photo can be recovered.

Photo bit rot of archived photos is a big concern of mine.

Thanks. Jake.

HashTab v5.1.0.23 works well for me. I am a firm believer in checking the integrity of my downloads. It was necessary for me to give an email address to at which time they sent me a download link. Thanks

I downloaded HashTab from Softpedia and didn't have to give an email address. I'm just mentioning this for the benefit of anyone who doesn't want to give out their email address.


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