You may have come across the word proxy when browsing online. Therefore, what are web proxies and what do they do?
A web proxy is an intermediary between a user that is browsing online and an online resource. Every time you visit a website directly, the request your website sends the online server contains information about your PC along with the location, IP address, and browser fingerprints. The resource responds to the request by providing the content you want.
On the other hand, if your connection is proxy-based, there is usually a gateway between your device and the web resource. The proxy can modify your request, hide your identity and filter online content to prevent you from exposing your identity or getting unwanted material. This is the reason why people use web proxies for anonymous web browsing.
Different Types Of Web Proxies
There are two types of proxies, as discussed below.
Multiple people can access shared proxies at any given time. There are some free and premium shared proxies on the internet, with the latter limiting the number of people who can access it. As many people are using the same resource, your internet connection can become painfully slow as a result. There is also the likelihood that other users may snoop into your connection and collect some of your browsing history or personal information.
Dedicated proxies allow only one user to access the internet through its gateway. This helps to solve the problem of internet lag and the security risks that come with shared proxies. Dedicated proxies tend to be about double the price of shared ones, which is certainly a worthwhile investment for most people.
Types of Proxy Servers based on the Network Configuration:
Forward Proxy Server
Internal networks such as institutions and large companies commonly use forward proxies. They work as a gateway from which users access the internet. Once a user browses a particular website, the forward proxy server determines if the user is allowed to view the content. If he or she is allowed to view the site, it okays the connection to an external server, which, in turn, processes the request. The external server does not see the user’s IP address but only the connection request from the proxy.
Administrators use these servers to prevent access to restricted resources by their internal users. The server also acts as a firewall or shield to prevent external bots from accessing internal network users.
Reverse Proxy Server
The reverse proxy servers work in the opposite way of the server mentioned above. A web service provider installs this type of proxy, which helps to hide all internal resources from users. When a user requests the web resource, it determines whether the web user can see the content. If allowed, it responds to the request with the content requested.
Web administrators use these servers to prevent unwanted access by users from certain regions. It also makes it tough for hackers to gain access to the site. Besides, it balances the load and disperses data between several internal servers. This prevents an overload when there are several requests. Most web service providers use this kind of server.
Open Proxy Servers
An open server acts as an intermediary for sending requests and receiving responses. Its main work is to hide the user’s IP address when he or she is browsing the internet. Unlike the dedicated servers discussed above, these servers do not require any authentication from the user’s side. This opens them to abuse and malware.
What Are Web Proxies And What Do They Do?
Go through the section above for detailed information on proxy servers. You can use these proxies to enhance your privacy when browsing a website, or to unlock region specific content. Proxies are similar to VPNs in many ways, but should the two should not be confused. VPNs offer better security and value for money, according to the experts at Nord. However, there are a few situations in which a proxy is the best choice:
- When you need to bypass a simple firewall.
- If you’re using an old computer – This is because VPNs use the CPU for processing, whereas a proxy doesn’t.
- When you require faster connection to websites – Proxies can store cache and use this to decrease your bandwidth across commonly viewed sites.
Consider your options and weigh up the advantages carefully before purchasing a proxy server. Paid proxies tend to perform better than free VPNs, and having some form of added internet protection is always a plus.