Proxy Wall 101: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know
Accessing some internet resources and data can be challenging. You may be blocked from accessing such information due to government or organization censorship. You’ll need new ways of accessing restricted data while keeping your security intact.
Proxy servers can enable you to bypass access restrictions, improve security, balance website load, etc. This article helps you understand everything about proxy servers.
What is a Proxy Server?
It’s a gateway between you (the user) and the internet. Hence, it is an intermediary between you and the web pages you visit online.
Your online activity (forwarding & receiving information) is made possible through an Internet Protocol (IP) address (assigned to your device). Your IP address acts as your home address, allowing you and others to send mail and receive them.
A proxy server provides you with an alternate IP address from the one assigned to your device. Here are the steps of its working mechanism;
- You send a request to the internet through your computer or browser
- Proxy picks up the request and routes to the web server.
- The proxy gets the response & forward it to your computer.
- You access the response via your web browser.
Hence, it provides a layer of security and additional functionality for your online activities. But, the properties of the intermediary determine the type of proxy server and its application.
Types of Proxy Servers
1. Datacenter proxies: They are remote servers that allow you to mask your IP address. From the name itself, they are hosted in data centers. You can get as many IP addresses as your purpose requires.
Hence, datacenter proxies will enable you to gather data and intelligence cheaply with an exceptional response time. With dedicated servers to ensure 99% uptime, you’re assured of a smooth data extraction experience and security too.
Whether you’re after anonymity, web scraping, enhanced social media marketing, network traffic control, etc., datacenter proxies will cover you.
2. Residential proxies: They assign you an IP address tied to a specific location, allowing you to access the web like you’re in that location. It's perfect for blocking unwanted cookies and ads. They are hard to detect but relatively expensive.
3. Transparent proxies: Make users, especially companies, implement it without raising the alarm amongst its workers. An example is the SSL proxy that encrypts and decrypts Secure Socket Layer (SSL) communication between client & server.
4. Anonymous proxies: They make your online activity untraceable.
For additional protection of user ID, high anonymous proxies can be helpful. They delete any user information before targeting a website. But, free ones can be a trap for collecting user data.
5. Forward proxy: Helps in routing external traffic from multiple users. It’s perfect for companies with employees accessing external work.
6. Reverse proxy: Helps in routing internal traffic to multiple users. It's the best fit for website load balancing during enormous traffic.
Uses of a Proxy Server
You can apply a proxy server in these ways:
- Enhance security. By masking your original IP address, proxies keep your personal information off hackers.
- Web scraping. Websites can easily detect any data scraping and block you right away. Multiple IP addresses through data center proxies allow you to extract data without detection.
- To balance website load (traffic) to eliminate crashes. For example, Squid ( a forwarding and caching proxy based on HTTPS) can improve your website delivery and performance. Additionally, caching improves your website’s bandwidth.
- To control the internet access of employees. Proxies do this by filtering inbound and outbound traffic of private networks of organizations.
Benefits of Proxy Servers
Here are some of them:
- Better security. Proxy masks your IP address and your personal information. Hence, it makes it difficult for hackers to access and attack you, your loved ones, or your company.
- Hassle-free browsing by eliminating ads. If you’re tired of accepting website cookies and canceling out ads, then proxies can be your ad blocker.
- Improves employee productivity by preventing them from accessing distracting sites.
- It grants full access to location-based information. Proxies enable you to access information by making you look like you’re a resident of a specific location.
- Enhanced social media marketing. Most social platforms limit the number of accounts per IP. Instagram allows one to have 5 accounts per IP address. If you attach more accounts, your IP will be blocked, but proxies will enable you to get around any IP block.
How to Get a Proxy Server
You have two options if the valuable benefits of proxy servers make you want one.
- Hardware option: Involve having physical connections (proxy readers & sensors) between your private network and the internet. It’ll help forward and receive your requests from the internet.
- Software: You can install software proxies from providers to enjoy their benefits. Although less expensive, you’ll be charged usage fees (e.g., monthly) for paid ones.
The free proxy server exists too, but are limited in capacity (less IP address & devices)
and performance. But, the paid ones are scalable to meet your needs.
FAQs about Proxy Servers
What is a proxy server?
It is a system that acts as an intermediary between a user and the internet. It helps enhance your online security.
Is a proxy server a VPN?
A proxy server and VPN (a virtual private network) mask your IP address and route your network traffic through an external server. But, VPN encrypts your traffic too, making it offer enhanced security than a proxy server.
How does proxy operate?
A proxy assigns an alternate IP address to your device before accessing a web page. Afterward, you’ll send requests to the web through an alternate IP address hence masking your original one. Similarly, responses from the web pages are received through the proxy before displaying to your device.
Final Thoughts on Proxy Servers
The internet contains a ton of invaluable data for business and individual uses. But, the data may be location restricted or outrightly censored by the state or a firm.
Besides, the digital world is full of hackers waiting to steal your data. A proxy server can help you enhance your security. Also, it can facilitate your web data extraction without limitation, amongst other many uses.