We all use the internet even for the smallest things. Have you ever wondered how searching the internet works? How results of things you search for on the internet takes less than a few seconds to reach you? Well, one reason to this is a Proxy Server. Proxy servers basically act as middlemen between the client system and the internet while you search for data. Technically, when you search for something, the query goes through the proxy server to the internet and the result comes back to your system through the proxy server.
Initially, when a user requests data on the internet on a particular web browser, the request passes through an intermediary to reach the particular website that contains the information. This intermediary is called a proxy server. Once the request passes through the proxy server, the server saves the request in its cache. This way, the next time you search for the same information, the data is retrieved directly from the proxy server. This gives us an advantage of not going to the internet again for the particular data or resource.
Here is a video by CBTNUGGETS that explains more about Proxy Servers.
Just in case a particular response has not been cached previously or it is a first time search, the proxy server sends the request to remote servers connecting it to all relevant servers. These servers search for the data on behalf of the client computer. Once the data is spotted, it is sent to the proxy server by the remote servers and here it then caches this information.
But why use it?
Using a proxy server gives us a lot of advantages. The various purposes for using a proxy server are listed below:
Proxy servers help in containing the anonymity of the client. When you search for something on the internet, you open your identity to the open internet world that is filled with the unimaginable dangers. When you use a proxy server, it hides your IP address which is basically the sole identity to your system. The request for any search goes as a request from the proxy server and not the client. This preserves the security of the user.
When you use a proxy server remember how it works. Only if it is a first time search or any failure in previous caching, the request goes to the internet to get results. Otherwise, the proxy server caches everything you search for. As all the results of your previous requests are cached, your next search will be very fast as the result is already in the proxy server.
However, to render this feature, the website has to know your IP address. And this is termed illegal in many countries. For this purpose, you can use a proxy server. Proxy servers located in various parts of the world locate their nearest IP address even without the website tracing the IP address. This has helped in the accurate and successful implementation of the Geolocating feature.
Also, a user can use a blocked site from a particular country by using a local proxy that is located in that country to access the website.
Most of the public Wi-Fi, mainly in schools, colleges, offices and other similar institutions always have a few blacklisted or blocked websites. You cannot access them until the main server gives you the access which will never happen. Most of these sites are social media sites blocked for the most obvious reasons. This can be easily done by a proxy server. It can restrict a particular site from coming through to the client server from the internet once it is blacklisted.
This is the opposite of the above feature. You can access a blocked site easily if you are using a proxy server. You can switch from your institution or office proxy server to an open proxy server (which is definitely not very secure) as the filters are placed only on the particular proxy server. You can do this by simply using a free proxy server software.
Most of us are not aware that load balancers are very necessary to drive traffic on the internet. While every hosting domain has its own load balancers, when it comes to a single client system, proxy servers act as a load balancer. They drive workload among various HTTP servers for faster performance.
Types of proxy servers
There are a few kinds of basic proxies as below.
When you search for a particular information using this proxy, there is no way that your IP address will be revealed. Not only it masks your IP address but also when a request goes out from your system to the internet, only the IP address of the proxy server is revealed. Your IP is secure.
Elite or High Anonymity Proxy
The highest security that a proxy can provide is here. This proxy has the highest level of anonymity wherein the anonymous proxy, the user system IP is not revealed but the IP of the proxy is shown making the receiver aware that a proxy has been used. However, in this proxy neither the client system nor the proxy IP is shown. The receiver will not be aware of the request was made by a system or a proxy server.
The name says it all. This proxy server is transparent enough to give away all your information when you send out a request. Mostly this works in an intranet environment where all your activity is known to the management. However, for a person sharing personal information only, this is no way a safe way to browse.
This proxy is usually used by very secure, closed or private networks. This proxy passes requests from the internet through a firewall to an isolated network. This is done for the security of the clients do not have a direct access to sensitive data on an isolated network.