What Is a Proxy Server and How to Use It?
Last Updated: March 30, 2023
What is a proxy server? Unfortunately, many people are unsure what a proxy server is, and even fewer know how to use one. Yet, a proxy server can be an invaluable tool for protecting your privacy online and increasing your security.
So if you are not sure what a proxy server is, don’t despair. We will explain what it is and how you can use it to improve your internet experience.
What Is a Proxy Server?
A proxy server is a system that acts as an intermediary between your computer and the internet. When you connect to the internet, you are actually connecting to the proxy server. The proxy server, also known as a “forward proxy”, then connects you to the website or other online resources that you want to access.
In other words, proxy servers act as a firewall and web filter, providing security and managing access to the internet. When you use a proxy server, your IP address is hidden from the websites you visit. This provides a level of anonymity and privacy, as well as security since your IP address can be used to track your location and identity.
How Does a Proxy Server Work?
Now that you know what a proxy server is, you may be wondering how they work?
When you type a web address into your browser, your computer sends a request to the proxy server. The proxy server then forwards this request to the website or other online resource. The website then sends its response back to the proxy server, which passes it on to you and your computer.
This process is transparent to you and happens automatically. You can use a proxy server with any internet application, including browsers, chat clients, and email programs.
Why Would You Use a Proxy Server? — Advantages of Using a Proxy Server
There are many reasons why you might want to use a proxy server. The most common is to improve your security and privacy when online. By hiding your IP address and using a proxy server, you can surf the web anonymously. This is especially important if you are using public Wi-Fi, as your data is more vulnerable to being intercepted.
Proxy servers can also be used to bypass internet censorship. For example, if you live in a country where the government restricts access to certain websites, you can use a proxy server to get around these restrictions.
Thirdly, proxy servers can be used to improve your internet speed. So, when you visit a website, the proxy server will first check to see if it has a cached version of the site. If it does, it will serve this cached version instead of fetching the site from the internet. This can be much faster, especially if the site is popular and gets a lot of traffic.
Another great reason to use a proxy server is to control internet usage in your home or office. By blocking certain websites, you can prevent employees from wasting time on social media or browsing the internet when they should be working.
There are many other benefits of using a proxy server, but these are some of the most important ones. If you are looking for a way to improve your online experience, be sure to give them a try.
Why Wouldn’t You Use a Proxy Server? — Disadvantages of Using a Proxy Server
However, there are also some disadvantages to using a proxy server.
The first is that proxy servers can be slow. This is because they add an extra step to the process of fetching websites and their content. It’s a bit contradictory, but the same process that can improve your internet speed can also be the reason for its slower performance — it depends on whether you have the website in question already cached.
Another disadvantage of using a proxy server is that it can be unreliable. They are often overloaded with traffic and may not be able to handle the amount of traffic you are trying to send through them (especially free proxy servers).
Lastly, proxy servers can be blocked by websites. If a website detects that you are using a proxy server, it may block you from accessing its content. This can be frustrating, especially if you are trying to access a website that you need for work or school.
How to Use a Proxy Server?
Now that you know what a proxy server is and how it works, you may be wondering how to use one. While there are many different types of proxy servers, they all work in a similar way.
The first step is to find a proxy server. So, you can either use a free or paid proxy server. Free proxy servers are usually slower and less reliable than paid ones. However, they can be a good option if you only need to use the proxy server for a short time.
Once you have found a proxy server, you will need to configure your internet settings to use it. This process is different for each browser, but generally, you will need to enter the proxy server’s IP address and port number into the relevant fields. You can find this information on the proxy server’s website.
If you are using a paid proxy server, you will also need to enter your login details. Once you have entered all the necessary information, save your settings and restart your browser.
You should now be able to browse the internet using the proxy server. However, keep in mind that some websites may not work with a proxy server, as they can detect and block them. If this happens, you will need to find another proxy server to use.
Types of Proxy Servers
As we mentioned earlier, there are many different types of proxy servers. So, here is a brief overview of the most common types:
Transparent proxy — The most basic type of proxy server. It does not change your IP address and does not encrypt your traffic. This makes it the least secure type of proxy server. However, it is easy to set up and is a good option for beginners.
Anonymous proxy — These proxy servers are a great way to keep your identity and online activity private. They work by changing your IP address, making it a bit more difficult for websites to track you. But, keep in mind that an anonymous proxy doesn’t hide the fact that you are using a proxy.
Anonymous proxy servers are also a good choice for bypassing censorship. If you live in a country where the government censors the internet, an anonymous proxy server can help you access blocked websites.
Distorting Proxy — This type of proxy server will change your IP address and will also add false information to your headers. This makes it more difficult for websites to track you, but it is not as secure as a high anonymity proxy because it still identifies itself as a proxy.
High Anonymity proxy — The most secure type of proxy server. It will change your IP address periodically and will also encrypt your traffic and add false information to your headers. On top of that, it hides the fact that you are using a proxy. This makes it impossible for websites to track you, making it the best choice for privacy and security.
So, if you are looking for a proxy server that will give you the top level of privacy and security a, high anonymity proxy is the best choice. These proxy servers are more difficult to set up and are not as widely available as other types, but they offer the best protection against online tracking.
Keep in mind that your traffic is not entirely secure no matter which type of proxy server you use. If you are looking for a 100% secure connection, you will need to use a VPN. A proxy server is a great way to improve your online privacy and security, but it is not a replacement for a VPN.
And if you want to find out more about the differences between a VPN and a proxy, make sure to check out our detailed comparison — here.
Now that you know what a proxy server is and how it works, you can start using one to improve your online privacy. Just remember to choose the right type of proxy server for your needs and always use a VPN for complete security.
Stay safe out there!
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts all of your traffic and routes it through a secure server. This makes it impossible for anyone to track or spy on your online activity. A proxy server only changes your IP address, and most of them do not encrypt your traffic, making it easier for websites to track you.
A reverse proxy server is a type of proxy server that routes traffic from the internet to a specific server. This is different from a forward proxy server, which routes traffic from a specific server to the internet.
A firewall is a security system that blocks incoming traffic from accessing your computer. On the other hand, a proxy server is a type of server that routes your traffic through a secure server, making it hardly possible for anyone to track or spy on your online activity.