What Is a Proxy Server?

Last Updated On October 27, 2021

You might be using a proxy server at your office, university, or on a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Server that sits between a client application, such as a Web browser, and a real server can be known as a proxy server. It acts as a gateway between you and the internet. Moreover it is a intermediary server separating end users from the websites they browse. Proxy intercepts all requests to check whether it can fulfill the request itself. If it can’t requests are forwarded to areal server.

What’s a Proxy Server?

A proxy server creates a gateway between you and the internet. It’s an intermediary server that sits between end users and the websites they browse. When users make requests to web sites and services on the Internet, the proxy server intercepts those requests and then communicates with web servers on behalf of those users, by acting as a middleman.

Purpose of a Proxy Server

Improve Performance

In proxy servers there is a mechanism of saving results of all requests for a certain time. Therefore proxies dramatically improve the performance of user that connected to it. As an example consider a situation where user X reading a Medium article through a proxy server. And after some times another user Y is also going to read the same medium article through the same proxy server. Instead of forwarding request of user Y to the server, which is a time consuming operation, proxy server returns the previously fetched page for user X.

Filter Requests

Filtering user requests can be achieved via proxy servers. Think that your university wants to prevent downloading torrents using the Wi-fi network of the university. So achieve this requirement network administrators can filter the requests that are related to torrent sites.

Types of proxy servers

You know that all proxies help you access websites. But you might not heard about proxies can be categorized according to the way that they behave in operation. A proxy can be categorized into one of four:

  • Transparent proxy. Although this is a proxy server it tells websites that it is a proxy server and it will pass along your IP address anyway.
  • Anonymous proxy. Here it identifies itself as a proxy, but it won’t pass your IP address to the website.
  • Distorting proxy. It passes along an incorrect IP address for you, while identifying itself as a proxy.
  • High Anonymity proxy. The proxy and your IP address stay a secret. Here proxy provides a random IP address that is not your’s to the website that you connect.

Why you might want to use a proxy.

Here are the situations where you can use a proxy server.

  • Your university or school blocks access to certain websites and a student wants to access that.
  • Your government blocks social medias or websites and you need to bypass the restrictions.
  • You want to search something online that interests you. but if you think that there is a risk , they might be traced back to your IP address and your location.
  • You might want to post comments on a websites, but you do not want your expose your IP address to those websites.

What is a reverse proxy?

A reverse proxy is a server that sits in front of web servers and forwards client (e.g. web browser) requests to those web servers. Reverse proxies are typically implemented to help increase security, performance, and reliability. The difference between a normal proxy and reverse proxy is, where normal proxy sits in front of the clients and in reverse proxy, when users send requests to the origin server of a website, those requests are intercepted before reaching the origin server by the reverse proxy server. Then it send requests to origin server and receive the responses.

You can find lots of proxy servers easily for free, but remember you might have to face risks with any free service. Typically these free proxies may not be as safe or secure as you hope it would be.