Hashing vs Encryption (Difference Between the Two)

From time to time, people are fond of using hashing and encryption interchangeably.

Nevertheless, the truth is these two words mean completely different things.

What are some of the differences between the two, and the situations in which you should use one over the other?

This is a comparison between hashing vs encryption.

Hashing vs Encryption

In this guide, I will be discussing the following:

  • Difference between hashing and encryption.

Difference between hashing and encryption

  • A hash is a string or number generated from a string of text and the resulting string is of fixed length whereas encryption turns data into a series of unreadable characters that are not of fixed length.
  • In hashing, it is impossible to turn a hash back into its original string whereas in encryption the encrypted strings are reversible back into their original decrypted form using a key.
  • Hashing is an ideal way to store passwords, since hashes are one-way in their nature whereas encryption should only be used when it is a necessity to decrypt the resulting message.
  • Hashing is preferred when the raw value does not need to be known for the application to work correctly to encryption.
  • Hashing is one way, you cannot get the original data from a hash code while encryption is two way, you can decrypt the encrypted string using the correct key.
  • Hashing serves the purpose of ensuring integrity, so that if something is changed you can know that it has changed whereas the purpose of encryption is to transform data in order to keep it secret from others.
  • Hashing takes arbitrary input and output a fixed-length string whereas encryption transforms data into another format in such a way that only specific individuals can reverse the transformation.
  • Encryption uses a key to convert plaintext to cipher text whereas hashing does not need any key to convert a string of text to a hash code.
  • Most popular hashing algorithms include sha-3 and md5. On the other hand, AES, Blowfish, and RSA are the most popular encryption algorithms today.
  • In hashing, the same input should always produce the same output whereas the output of an encryption depends on the key used.
  • The result of hashing is of fixed length whereas the result of encryption is of the same length as the input.

Other uses of hashing

  • Hashing is an effective method to compare and avoid duplication in databases.
  • It is used in digital signatures and SSL certificates.
  • Hashing can be used to find a specific piece of data in big databases.
  • It is also widely used in computer graphics.

Two main types of encryption

  • Symmetric encryption – the data is encrypted and decrypted using a single cryptographic key.
  • Asymmetric encryption – is involves the use of two different keys, one for encryption and the other for decryption purposes.

Read:  RSA vs DSA

We can conclude that, encryption is for maintaining data confidentiality and requires the use of a key in order to return to plaintext while hashing is for validating the integrity of content by detecting all modifications through changes to the hash output.


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