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(on Wikipedia)
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A file can be "summarized" into a short string. That string can be compared with the file again to determine if it's the same file. This is often used when downloading a file to check it after the fact. This sort of thing is built into compression software, but using md5sum is way faster/easier because it doesn't need to put the file in a container and uncompress it to use it.

There are various other programs which do similar things, like sha256sum. These all come with almost all Linux distributions.

I prefer cfv - Tests/creates .sfv, .csv, .crc, .md5(sfv-like), md5sum, bsd md5, sha1sum, and .torrent files.

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