If someone sends you a file or it is downloaded from a website, how would you find out that it has not become corrupted during the download or it has not been modified by third party. One way to verify the integrity of files is through the use of file hashes or checksums. These hashes are calculated using special one-way encryption algorithms like MD5, SHA-256, RIPEMD-256 etc. They are unique for a given source data which means that if the file hash provided by the original author or distributor is different from the one calculated by you, then files are different.
Even though there are many third-party tools available for Windows users for calculating file hashes such as HashIt, Hash Tools, HashTab, abylon FreeHash etc., you do not have to download and use them if you already have Notepad++ installed on your Windows PC. The popular text editor Notepad++ comes with hash calculation tools built inside it. It is able to calculate MD5 and SHA-256 hashes for files as well as for the text.
Using Notepad++ to calculate file or text hashes is very easy. You have to simply launch Notepad++, select Tools from the menubar and then either MD5 or SHA-256 from the sub-menu depending on the type of hashing algorithm you want to use. In the sub-menu you can choose whether you want to calculate hash from files, from selection into clipboard or from copy-pasting text.
If you choose to “generate from files”, then you have to select one or more files. If you choose “to generate”, then you have to type in or cop-paste text in the given text box. If you choose to “generate from selection into the clipboard”, then it will calculate the hash from selected text and copy the hash in the clipboard for your use. In the first two cases, a window will open up that shows the hashes from where they can be copied to the clipboard.
So many Windows users have Notepad++ installed on their PC and they can use the same Notepad++ for generating MD5 and SHA-256 hashes for files or text data very easily. If you have not already installed Notepad++ on your Windows PC, then you should get it from https://notepad-plus-plus.org/.