A complete guide to proxy servers

proxy server is a server application that acts as a relay between a client requesting the resource and a respective server proving that resource to the client. In case of usage of proxy server, the client doesn’t directly connect with the server (which is usually done while requesting an URL or a webpage) but instead the client’s request is directed to the proxy server which examines the request and based on the evaluation performs network actions/transactions accordingly. If all goes well, the request is directed to the Internet by proxy server. By this way the complexity of request from client to server is drastically reduced. In addition to it, this method provides more security and balances the load more efficiently. Proxy servers are one of the many elements used in building a firewall.  As it is privacy friendly method, it prevents the malicious parties from entering a private network.

What proxy servers are all about?

Proxy servers basically works as an intermediate between client and the server. All the request from client goes first to the proxy server and then to Internet. Similarly, all requests/responses from internet goes to the proxy server and then comes back to the client. It is a server that stands between end-user clients and the locations they browse. You can get different levels of functionality, security, and privacy from proxy servers, according to your needs, requirements, or company policy. Proxy servers therefore enable clients to request services on behalf of themselves, possibly hiding the true origin of the request. Proxy servers provide network connections shared by all clients, as well as cache data to accelerate requests.

Proxy Servers- How do they work?

An understanding of what IP address is essential to know how proxy servers work. Think of IP address as a zip code used to locate your home. But each computer has its own unique address ie unique IP address. Just as a post office knows the exact location/address of your house and accordingly delivers your posts to you, the internet figure out the location of your pc with the help of this IP address. After that only, internet delivers the requested resource to the correct computer by using computer’s IP address. Isn’t it simple!?

Now that you know what IP means, let’s look at how really a proxy server works. You can think of a proxy server as a computer on the internet that has its own IP address, which your computer knows. Sending a web request involves contacting a proxy server first. After that, the proxy server makes your web request for you, gathers the web server’s response, and returns the web page data to you so that you can see it in your web browser.  A proxy server can modify your web requests when it forwards them, but you should still receive the information you expect. Your IP address can be changed by a proxy server, so the web server does not know your exact location. Your data can be encrypted by the proxy server, so it can’t be read in transit. Also, a proxy server’s IP address can be used to block access to certain internet websites.

Proxy servers: How to get one?

In addition to software, there are hardware versions available in the market. Data from the web is accessed, sent, and forwarded by hardware solutions between your network and the internet. On the other hand, proxy software usually resides on a provider’s server or in the cloud. An app that facilitates communication with the proxy is installed on your computer and then you can easily connect with a proxy server. For an affordable monthly fee, a software proxy is usually available. It is possible for them to be free at times. There are fewer addresses available in the free versions, while paid proxies can meet the needs of businesses with a large number of endpoint devices.

How many types of proxy servers are there?

There are several different kinds of proxy servers, each with different features, which offer users an alternative address with which to access the internet. Each proxy server works differently. It’s crucial that you know what features a proxy server offers is important, as is ensuring that it meets your needs.

Forward Proxy

Forward proxies are used to send data across internal networks to groups of users. Upon receiving a request, the proxy server examines it and decides whether it should attempt to establish a connection with the internet. Forward proxies are ideal for networking within an organization that needs a unified (ie, single) point of entry. The network is protected by IP address and provides easy administrative control. An organization may, however, be unable to cater to the specific needs of end users while using a forward proxy.

SSL Proxy

Between a client and a server, a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) proxy decrypts data. Due to the encryption of data both ways, it is impossible to detect the existence of the proxy from either side. Organizations using these proxies need to increase security against threats that SSL detects and stops. Using an SSL proxy in conjunction with a website may help make its ranking higher in the search engines because Google gives priority to the servers that use SSL. Using an SSL proxy can have downsides, such as preventing content from being cached—so, if you visit a website multiple times, it may load slower than usual.

Rotating Proxy

With rotating proxy, each user that connects to it is assigned a different IP address. In order to connect, users are given an address that is different from the one used by their predecessors. Users who frequently scrape the web at high volumes will find rotating proxies to be ideal. Using them, you can visit a website repeatedly undetected that is anonymously. However, precaution should be taken before deciding to use rotating proxy as there exist cases of rotating proxy also using shared proxy which in turn can leak your private data.

Data Centre Proxy

The data center proxy is provided by another corporations, and not by an internet service provider (ISP). Users’ requests are routed through the proxy server, which resides physically in a data center. For those looking for a quick solution at an affordable price, data center proxies are a good option. The advantage of these proxy server is that they enable users to gather data efficiently and at a reasonable price. They are also not completely anonymous, which can put visitors’ information or identities at risk.

Residential Proxy

Using a residential proxy, you can obtain an IP address corresponding to a physical device. Requests are then routed through the residential proxy and blocked if they appear to come from competitors. Residential proxies are especially helpful for those who need to verify the ads that appear on their website. Other proxy options are less trustworthy than residential proxies. These devices are often costlier to operate, so users should carefully consider whether the extra bucks is worth it.

Reverse proxy

Reverse proxies, as opposed to forward proxies, are positioned in front of web servers, which forward requests from client browsers to the web servers.  This technique intercepts user requests at the web server’s network edge before they reach the web server. A request is sent to the origin server, and it also receives a reply from it. Using reverse proxies is an excellent solution for websites with many incoming requests that must balance the load. The reason they can reduce bandwidth costs is that they act as another web server that handles inbound requests. It is possible for attackers to uncover the HTTP server architecture using reverse proxies. The reverse proxy may force network administrators to upgrade or reposition their firewalls.

Transparent proxy

Transparent proxy servers provide an experience as close to that of the user’s own computer as possible. The process of implementing them is “transparent.” Users can also be “forced” into a connection without knowing they are doing so. If your company want to use proxy server without your employees knowing it then transparent proxy servers are your good to go option. A seamless user experience is one of its advantages. Transparent proxies, however, tend to be more vulnerable to denial-of-service attacks resulting from SYN flooding.

Anonymous Proxy

An anonymous proxy server anonymizes the internet activity of its users. Through the network, the user can access the internet while their computer and identity are hidden. For those who seek complete anonymity while accessing the internet, you should use a transparent proxy. The advantages of transparent proxies pale in comparison to their disadvantages. Some people find transparent proxy use to be unethical.

High Anonymity Proxy

By definition, a high anonymity proxy is one that goes beyond anonymity proxy. This method eliminates all of your information before connecting to the target site. For users who must maintain their anonymity at all costs, such as employees who don’t want their activities traced to their employer, the server is ideal. The downside is that some of them, especially the free ones, are ploys set up to entrap users so they can gain access to their data.

Distorting Proxy

Proxy sites that obfuscate their own identity identify themselves as proxies are the distorting proxies. In doing so, it changes its IP address to one that is incorrect. People seeking to conceal their location on the internet can use proxies that change their location while they are accessing the internet. Proxy sites with this feature allow you to disguise your identity as well as that of the proxy. Despite being linked to the proxy, your identity remains secure. Some websites, however, block distorting proxies automatically, making it impossible for end users to access websites.

Public Proxy

Anyone can access a public proxy for free. By accessing its IP address, it lets users hide their identity while visiting websites. Users who value cost above security and speed should consider public proxies for sure. Free proxies are easy to access, but they are often slow because they get clogged up with many free users. The risk of others on the internet accessing your information is also increased when using a public proxy.

Shared Proxy

Several users can use the same proxy at the same time. By sharing an IP address, they allow you to surf the internet appearing as though you are at an address of your choice. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money or don’t need the fastest connection, shared proxies are a great option. A shared proxy has the advantage of being inexpensive. Due to the fact that they are shared by others, you may be temporarily banned from a site in case you’re blamed for someone else’s mistakes.

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