File verification freeware generates MD5 manifest for files

If you need to burn a few dozen gigabytes to DVD for archiving, and want to generate MD5 checksums for all the files on the disk as a way to double-check that everything's written correctly, there's a piece of freeware called DVDsig to do this. In fact, it can make the disk self-verifying – meaning you can bring the disk to any other Windows computer and have it verify the MD5 checksums without having to install anything.

Recently I was facing the prospect of burning a few dozen gigabytes to DVD for archiving, and wanted to generate MD5 checksums for all the files on the disk as a way to double-check that everything had been written correctly.

I was also curious if there was a way to make the disk self-verifying – to be able to bring the disk to any other Windows computer and have it verify the MD5 checksums without having to install anything.

After a bit of searching, I came across and downloaded a piece of freeware that fit the bill: DVDsig. A tiny (a mere 10K), self-contained application from programmer Dariusz Stanislawek, DVDsig can generate an MD5 manifest for all the files in the directory where it currently resides, as well as any subdirectories. The generated checksums can then be checked against the files just as easily.

To use DVDsig with a set of files to be burned to CD or DVD, follow these steps:

  1. Compile the files to be burned into a given directory.
  2. Place a copy of DVDsig in the topmost directly and run it.
  3. Select Scan from the program's menu.
  4. The program should then iterate through each file and directory under it, and will generate a file named dvdsig.md5 when it's finished.
  5. Burn all the files, including the DVDsig executable and the .md5 manifest, to CD or DVD.
  6. To verify the results on the burned disc, insert the disc and run DVDsig from the topmost directory, and select Verify.

The biggest drawback of DVDsig is that it only works with groups of files. It can't be commanded to verify individual files or directories in the manifest; it's all or nothing, so if you're dealing with a lot of files in one place, it can be very slow. Nevertheless, it's still impressive for its small size and convenience.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

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This was first published in April 2007

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