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What is a proxy server?

In computer networks, a proxy server acts as an intermediary for queries from internet users seeking resources from other servers. User joins the proxy server, requesting some service, such as a webpage, connection, file or other resources available from other servers and the proxy server estimates the request as a way to control and simplify it’s complexity. Nowadays, most proxy servers facilitate access to the content on the World Wide Web (WWW).

Uses

A proxy server has plenty of potential purposes including:

  • Keep machines anonymous for security;
  • Speed up access to internet content using caching. Web proxies are mostly used to cache web pages from a web server;
  • Block the attempt to download the same content multiple times in order to save bandwidth;
  • Log and audit Internet usage;
  • Scan transferred data for malware before delivery;
  • Scan upload data in order to prevent data loss;
  • Bypass webpage restrictions at work;
  • Access restriction/enhancement;
  • Apply access policy to network content or services;
  • Access websites filtered or banned by your ISP or government;
  • Bypass parental and security controls;
  • Allow the website to make requests to externally hosted resources such as music files, images, movie files, etc. when cross-domain restrictions block the website from connecting directly to the outside domains;
  • Allow browsers to make network requests to externally hosted content in the name of a website when cross-domain restrictions block the browser from directly accessing the outside domains.

Types of proxy

  • A proxy server may operate on the user’s local computer or at various points between destination servers on the Internet and user’s computer;
  • A proxy server which passes responses and requests unmodified is usually called a tunneling proxy or a gateway;
  • A forward proxy is an Internet-facing proxy which retrieves from a large range of sources, mostly everywhere on the Internet;
  • A reverse proxy usually is an Internet-facing proxy that is used as a front-end to protect and control access to a server on a private network, mostly performing tasks such as caching, authentication, load-balancing, or decryption.

Proxy setup guides

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