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How to spot fake Windows 11 downloads

Here are our top tips so you can avoid Windows 11 scams

At long last Windows 11 has been released, coming out to rave reviews that praised its fresh new design. However, amid all the excitement, you’ll want to be wary of any bad actors looking to take advantage of the situation and offer you a fake version of the operating system.

This would certainly be nothing new: well over a year ago we reported on a fake Windows 12 Lite that was popping up on Reddit. It had several obvious hallmarks of a fake – including a ‘manual’ that was just a single side of A4 – but others might not be so easy to spot.

Why would someone make a fake Windows 11 download? It could well be a virus or ransomware in disguise, designed to steal data, or limit your computer’s functionality until you’ve paid a ransom – or simply a dud file that you’ve been tricked into paying for.

To try and lend a hand we’re here to offer our tips and tricks for how you can best avoid being caught out by fake Windows 11 upgrades and purchases. You can also check out our guide on how to download and install Windows 11 if you want to start using the real thing. 

Our tips for avoiding fake Windows 11 downloads

While these tricks aren’t guaranteed to keep you safe, following these best practices will help you avoid getting caught out by someone looking to scam you with a fake Windows 11 upgrade or purchase.

Get Windows 11 from Microsoft or a reputable reseller
This one is the most important piece of advice on this list. If the site offering you Windows 11 isn’t Microsoft or a reseller you know to be 100% genuine, you probably aren’t getting what you think you are.

If you’re after the genuine product you should go directly to Microsoft’s Download Windows 11 webpage rather than trusting a dodgy-looking link.

Are the claims too good to be true?
Windows 11 is great, but it isn’t perfect. If the download you are presented with makes bold claims such as guarantees you’ll be 100% safe from viruses and ransomware, or if it’s claiming to be an unreleased Windows 12 or beyond it’s not going to live up to your expectations – and it probably isn’t a legitimate download.

Does it claim to be fake?
You’d be surprised how often fake programs hide their real identity in plain sight. In the case of the Windows 12 Lite upgrade we mentioned earlier, the rather ropey-looking website clearly stated that is in fact a Linux Lite 4.8 LTS made to look like Windows 10.

This can be a little harder to spot, but if your download openly admits to not being the real Windows 11 you’re after you can be sure – at least on this occasion – that it’s telling the truth.

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