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Difference between MD5 and SHA1

MD5 and SHA1 are hashing algorithms, with MD5 beating SHA in terms of performance. SHA1 is, nonetheless, more secure than MD5. The idea behind hashing algorithms is that they are used to establish a unique digital fingerprint of data or a message, known as a hash or digest.

In this article, you will learn about the difference between MD5 and SHA1. But before discussing the differences, you must know about MD5 and SHA1, with their advantages and disadvantages.

What is MD5?

MD is an abbreviation for "Message Digest". The message digest algorithm known as the MD5 was designed and developed by Ron Rivest. However, other versions of the MD algorithm have been developed, the first being the MD (message digest algorithm), which was followed by MD2, MD3, MD4, and, finally, MD5. Each new edition of MD was getting better than the previous one as they were released.

The fastest algorithm created at the time, MD5, could shield itself from collisions. Currently, it might not guarantee security because hackers and technology have figured out how to cause collisions. It generates 128-bit messages by processing the input text in 512-bit blocks that are further splited into 16 32-bit sub-blocks. The MD5 method produces four 32-bit blocks that together form a 128-bit message digest.

Use of MD5 Algorithm

It was created with security in mind, as it accepts any size input and returns a 128-bit hash value as an output. MD5 must meet two requirements to be called cryptographically secure:

  1. It is not possible to produce two inputs that generate the same hash function.
  2. It is not feasible to create a message having the same hash value.

MD5 was originally designed to hold a one-way hash of a password, and some file servers additionally offer a pre-computed MD5 checksum of a file, which the user may compare to the checksum of the downloaded file. MD5 checksum utilities are included in the distribution packages of most Unix-based OS.

Advantages and Disadvantages of MD5

There are various advantages and disadvantages of MD5. Some main advantages and disadvantages of MD5 are as follows:


  1. The MD5 algorithm generates a strong password in the form of 16 bytes. All developers, including web developers, utilize the MD5 algorithm to safeguard user passwords.
  2. It is very simple and quick to create a digest message from the original message.
  3. MD5 is both faster and easier to understand.
  4. A small amount of memory is required to integrate the MD5 algorithm.


  1. MD5 has been considered an unsafe algorithm. As a result, we are now employing SHA256 instead of MD5.
  2. MD5 generates the same hash function for diverse inputs.
  3. MD5 is neither symmetric nor asymmetric in nature.
  4. In comparison to SHA1, MD5 gives less security.

What is SHA1?

SHA is an abbreviation for "Secure Hash Algorithm". SHA is a hash algorithm developed and released as a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS PUB 180) by NIST and NSA in 1993. SHA1 was the improved version of SHA that was released in 1995 as FIPS PUB 180-1. On the other hand, SHA1 is related to MD5 because it is based on MD5.

The SHA 1 algorithm may take any arbitrary 264-bit message as input and generate a 160-bit message digest. SHA is an abbreviation for Secure Hash Algorithm, where secure refers to the algorithm's one-way property and inability to generate a comparable message from two messages. One-way implies that the original message cannot be obtained using the message digest of that message.

Usage of the SHA Algorithm

These SHA algorithms are utilized in security apps and protocols such as TLS, IPsec, PGP, SSL, and S/MiME. These also have a position in the bulk of cryptanalytic techniques and coding standards, which are primarily geared at seeing how all governmental, institutions, and private organization functions. Today, major corporations such as Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla have begun to encourage the use of SHA-3 and have stopped the use of the SHA-1 algorithm.

Advantages and Disadvantages of SHA1

There are various advantages and disadvantages of SHA1. Some main advantages and disadvantages of SHA1 are as follows:


  1. It is a sluggish algorithm. This property made it handy for storing password hashes because it slows down brute force attacks.
  2. In the event of interoperability concerns with legacy codes, it may be used in place of SHA-2.
  3. It may be utilized to compare files or codes to detect only unintended corruptions.


  1. It is less secure, with numerous vulnerabilities discovered over time.
  2. It is slower than other algorithms, so it is inappropriate for many tasks other than password storing.
  3. The key length of SHA1 is insufficient to withstand attacks.
  4. Collisions are simple and inexpensive to locate.

Key Differences between MD5 and SHA1

Difference between MD5 and SHA1

There are various key differences between MD5 and SHA1. Some main differences between MD5 and SHA1 are as follows:

  1. The primary distinction between SHA and MD5 is that SHA refers to a cryptographic hash function which is designed by NIST. In contrast, MD5 is a widely used hash algorithm that generates a 128-bit hash result from a file with varied string length.
  2. The MD5 algorithm is significantly faster than the SHA method. In contrast, the optimized SHA1 version was designed as an upgrade over the original method and is significantly faster than MD5.
  3. MD5 may provide a 128-bit message digest. In contrast, the SHA1 may generate a 160-bit message digest.
  4. If the attacker wishes to find two messages with identical message digest, they will need 264 operations for MD5 and 280 operations for SHA1.
  5. Using the MD5 technique, an attacker would require 2128 operations to determine the original message. In contrast, it will be 2160 in SHA1, which makes it very challenging to locate.
  6. SHA is a safer because of a cryptographic hash algorithm than MD5.
  7. SHA-1 is more difficult to use. In contrast, the MD5 is easy to use.
  8. MD5 was discovered by Ron Rivest in 1992. In contrast, the SHA-1 was discovered by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology in 1995.

Head-to-head comparison between MD5 and SHA1

Here, you will learn the head-to-head comparisons between MD5 and SHA1. The main differences between MD5 and SHA1 are as follows:

Features MD5 SHA1
Full Forms MD5 is an abbreviation for Message Digest. SHA1 is an abbreviation for Secure Hash Algorithm.
Length of Message Digest The message digest length for MD5 is 128 bits. The message digest length for SHA1 is 160 bits.
Complexity It is simple. It is quite complicated algorithm.
Speed It is faster. It is slower.
Security It offers poor security. It offers better security than MD5.
Crack code One would need to conduct 264 operations to find two messages with the same message digest. An attacker would have to carry out 280 operations.
Developed It was developed in 1992. It was developed in 1995.
Developed by It was developed by Ron Rivest. It was developed by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology.


The key distinction between MD5 and SHA1 is that MD5 was previously developed and had many flaws that might result in message digest clashes. On the other side, SHA1 improved hashing significantly and is superior to MD5. However, several flaws in SHA1 have been fixed in SHA 256 and SHA 512.

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