Finding Checksum Values in Windows 10

I shared the following question several users have asked in other portions of Windows Support:  In Windows 10, how does one calculate the checksum values of files? As most users know, matching the checksum value of a file on your computer against hash values specified by the source of the file, for example, is an important security feature to ensure the integrity of the files you use.

The answer to this question is simple enough, but I didn't find it in any Microsoft documentation or websites. Those explain options limited to prior versions of Windows and do not work for Windows 10.

Windows 10 does offer two straightforward ways to find the hash values of files, at least using Windows 10 Home x64 as I did. I don't know if they work on other versions, but I would expect they do. Microsoft just makes it difficult to discover the tools needed to perform this routine task.

One method uses the command certutil in the command prompt window.  For example: 

certutil -hashfile c:\Users\JDoe\Desktop\abc.exe SHA512

This command returns the SHA512 hash of file abc.exe located at the specified file path. You may use other values after SHA, such as 1 or 256, to produce the corresponding hash, and you may substitute MD5 or other supported parameters.

Another method is to use Windows PowerShell (version 5.1 for me) with the command Get-FileHash: 

Get-FileHash -Path c:\Users\JDoe\Desktop\abc.exe -Algorithm SHA512

Like certutil after a command prompt, this command in PowerShell returns the SHA512 hash of file abc.exe at the location specified on the C: drive, and you may substitute other parameters to find their corresponding hash values.

As for the same question posted elsewhere on these forums, few answers have been posted. They suggest limited solutions, some of which work for certain users and others that do not. Some reference an FCIV command, which apparently works automatically in prior versions of Windows. For Windows 10, at least one user sets forth somewhat elaborate steps for installation and use of FCIV in Windows 10, and that may work for some. You may find it in this thread: 

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/insider/forum/insider_wintp-insider_update/is-there-built-in-checksum-for-win-10/8dba82be-f036-4460-b427-954e057b678a  

In any event, in Windows 10 as it is configured, neither the command prompt nor Windows PowerShell recognizes FCIV as a command. Presumably, Microsoft does not expect it to be used, probably because there are alternatives. Microsoft just makes it difficult for anyone to discover them, at least in the experience of some of us.

Free third-party checksum programs are available for download and installation. I have not tried any of them. Because Windows 10 apparently has simple commands to check the values as explained above, I don't see any reason to use them.

Microsoft also makes it difficult for users to post anything in its forums. For instance, I could not reply to any of the existing questions but am limited to discussing the topic in this "community" section. For users who, like me, had a hard time discovering this information, I hope this post turns up in search results and offers some help.

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I find it easiest to install a third-party utility. Mine is MD5 and SHA Checksum Utility, which is a long-winded name but it gets the job done. I admire you for wanting to figure this out with Windows commands, and there is a certain satisfaction to be had from that.

This is one of those terrific little utilities that you never knew you needed.

Unless the Mods have locked a question, I just hit the  big blue Reply button to reply. Sometimes the forum is having a bad day and that doesn't work, but there's always tomorrow.

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Checksums are usually used to assure a downloaded file or file gets all the metadata to complete the file. Other than that, I would see no purpose for needing it.

And if the file completes successfully, then it obviously has succeeded if it runs properly.

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A checksum is used to ensure that a file copied from location A to location B copied accurately. It relies on the mathematical certainty that two otherwise identical files that differ by as little as a single bit will hash to different checksums.

For example, websites that offer large downloads will often publish the checksum of the file. After you download the file you can recompute the checksum and compare it to the original. If the two match - voila! - the file downloaded accurately.

Another practical application: Image backup applications typically create a checksum for each backup. Since images might be moved from one storage drive to another, and every transfer introduces the possibility, however small, that the image will be corrupted, before restoring a backup I can recompute ('verify') the checksum to ensure that the image is still intact.

Microsoft used to publish the checksums for Windows ISOs but lately they've stopped doing that. No reason given of which I'm aware - it's a big secret.

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A checksum is used to ensure that a file copied from location A to location B copied accurately.

YUP exactly what I said. Once again for the 100th time, you are not educating me on anything.

Comment Closed!

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Hi BullgogXX,

Thanks for accurately clarifying the purpose and use of checksums. They're about ensuring the integrity of the contents of the file for security and practical purposes, and they're often used.

I think Microsoft may not publish checksums for Windows files because it prefers the fsutil, which allegedly checks file integrity and restores accurate versions of corrupt files from the Windows cache. But we never really know why it does anything.

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Last updated July 29, 2021 Views 110,587 Applies to: