With ever-rising digital awareness and rising regulations, people are finding new ways to access the internet. One way to do that is to use proxies. By a word, proxy means appearing or using in place of someone else. In a computer network, a proxy works as an intercessor between the end-user and the internet or other servers. This way, the end-user can maintain anonymity or keep the data safe from the broader web. Every request made by the end-user passes through the proxy and vice-versa. For more in-depth information on a proxy, check out this blog post.
How do Proxies work?
Like any other computer, a proxy server has its IP address. When a request reaches the proxy server, it changes the IP address with its own before passing it on to the web. It does mask not only your location but also encrypts the address or the data, and enables the access to blocked web pages. blocked web pages.
Types of Proxy
Based on their functionality, there are generally two kinds of proxies: forward proxy and reverse proxy.
When a group of clients on the internal network (individuals, businesses, or organizations) use a proxy server, it is called a forward proxy. It helps in hiding the IP address of the client while working with the firewall to enhance security.
The most common types of forwarding proxies are:
- Anonymous proxy: It works on behalf of the end-user while exchanging information with the webserver. It hides the identity of the end-user in this way, securing them from unwanted ads, identity theft, etc.
- Elite proxy: This proxy changes its IP addresses frequently to avoid being detected as a proxy by the webserver.
- Transparent proxy: These proxies are mostly responsible for filtering the content passing through their server. They do not provide any anonymity by hiding the IP addresses.
- Distorting proxy: They are like anonymous proxy except for the fact that they can trick the end user’s real location. Mostly used to bypass the geographical restrictions.
Unlike the forward proxies, reverse proxies are used by the web servers to distribute received traffic and enhance the customer experience by reducing the load time of the information. They also act as an additional layer of security for the web servers preventing hackers from getting in.
Benefits of Proxy
There are primarily 4 key benefits of using a proxy.
- Anonymity – If you do not wish to receive targeted ads or reveal your location, using a proxy is an excellent way to do that.
- Caching – Since proxy servers store cache of the web pages visited earlier, they help in improving the speed and enhancing the experience of the end-user.
- Security – Proxies provide excellent protection and privacy when they are used along with another firewall or encryption protocol.
- Bypass Restrictions – In areas where content or websites are locked or banned, proxies can be used to bypass that and get access to the content.
What are the uses of a Proxy?
Given that there are so many kinds of proxies, the cases of usage are endless. From providing security to filtering content to bypassing geographical restrictions, proxies can be employed to do various things as desired by the user.
End-users commonly use proxies for some specific cases:
- Web scraping – Businesses around the world use web scraping to get an edge over their rivals. The latter is being performed via proxies.
- Market research – In the e-commerce world, market research holds the key to better revenue. This is done by using proxies, which can bypass restrictions put up by web servers to guard their data.
- Gaming – Professional gamers use proxies to access geo-restricted portals and play with players from around the world.
Proxy or VPN?
Since both the tools can hide your IP address and provide security, they are used interchangeably in the sentence. However, there are some marked differences between the two:
- While proxies mask or hide your IP address, VPNs encrypt the same to avoid government surveillance, ISP tracking, and hacking.
- Since VPNs encrypt data, they can be slower than the proxies.
- VPNs operate at an operating system level rerouting all traffic while proxies work on the application level and are limited to a specific browser or app.
- Proxy servers are generally free, while VPNs come with a cost.
Based on your needs, a proxy server can be programmed to do various functions while providing you security from unwarranted interactions. They are a great tool to gather data without being detected by the webserver. Thus, get an edge in this competitive world with the right use of proxies.