What Is a Proxy Server? Useful Facts About Proxy

If you want to visit a web resource that is not available due to any reason, you just need to use a proxy server. In short, proxy servers are the tools that allow you to browse through the web with a different IP address (a digital identifier that is given to each device connected to the Internet, so that devices can find each other online or on local networks and exchange data). It means that when you surf the Internet you use the software located not in your home but somewhere else. But let’s take a closer look at proxy.

What is a proxy server?

The proxy server definition is easy to understand from the following explanation. When you connect to the Internet in a usual way, your computer, tablet or smartphone gets in touch with web and application servers directly, without any intermediaries. As a result, these servers “read” your IP address, your location and other data. That’s why you lose your anonymity when you are online. Besides, some web resources can be blocked for you if your IP looks suspicious or is in the block list for some reasons.

Fortunately, instead of direct Internet connection, you can use proxy. Proxy is a server that provides data exchange between your device and servers of the Internet resources. In other words, it’s an intermediary between your computer and a website. One of its great advantages is that proxy gives you a new identity online. It hides your real data from everyone, so it gets impossible to block or track you by IP.

What is a proxy server

Types of proxy servers

Proxy servers fall into several types:

  • Web proxy. Web proxies are most commonly used and are the simplest. You connect to such servers via browsers and anonymously visit particular websites.
  • Open proxy. These proxy servers were either hacked or left open. Work with them is often unsafe and there is a big risk that your computer can be infected with viruses. It's better not to use open proxies.
  • Anonymous proxy servers. These private networks are managed by users. Often they are very slow and not safe.
  • VPN (Virtual Private Network). VPN software allows you to connect directly to a proxy server that is under control of a particular organization.
  • FTP proxy. Such proxies are used to upload data to FTP servers.
  • CGI proxy. These anonymizers help to open any website right in a browser. No additional settings are required. Most often such proxies are just websites where you can paste the address of the web resource that you want to visit.
  • SMTP, POP3 and IMAP proxies are aimed to send and receive emails.
  • HTTP and HTTPS proxies. They are designed for browsing through web pages.
  • Socks proxy. Socks transmit all data to destination servers as clients. That’s why they are known as the most anonymous protocols.

If your purpose is caching pages and fast loading choose HTTP, HTTPS or Socks proxies. The best solutions for https (SSL) connection are HTTPS and Socks. If you want a fully anonymous protocol, you need only Socks proxies.

Proxies can be configured in web browsers or via special software. To connect to the selected proxy server by using your web browser you should do the following:

  1. Open your browser settings. In Firefox, Chrome and Opera it’s the options button.

  2. The next step depends on the browser you use.
    a) In the drop-down menu of Firefox click Preferences -> Network Proxy -> Settings.
    b) In Google Chrome follow Settings -> Advanced -> System -> Open proxy settings.
    c) Opera users should click Go to browser settings -> Advanced -> System -> Open proxy settings.
    d) If you use the Safari browser on Mac go to Preferences -> Advanced -> Proxies: Change Settings.

  3. In the window that opens set the required parameters manually. Specify the IP address and the port of the proxy server, your username and password from the website if required.

  4. Close the window by clicking the OK button. Exit the settings window and restart the browser.
How to connect a proxy server

What are the benefits of proxy servers?

Let’s try to understand what benefits you get by using proxy servers. Here are some of them:

  • When you post a content on your website you can use a proxy server to view it as your visitors do.
  • If a forum has been blocked for you by your IP, use proxy to register again and have access to its materials.
  • Proxy servers help you access to the content and download files that are not available in your country.
  • If you care for traffic try to use a proxy server featuring compression. Compression allows you to reduce the webpage size in 1,5 - 2 times at the expense of images. Their quality gets worse a bit, but it’s okay for web surfing.
  • With a proxy you remain anonymous anywhere online. In the web browser history you will see only the proxy server’s web page, but not the site you visited. And the web resource you viewed will keep the proxy’s IP, but not yours. That’s the main secret of your anonymity.

What are the drawbacks?

Of course, proxies have not only benefits but downsides as well. Luckily their drawbacks are not very serious, so you can easily ignore them. Have a look at the following ones:

  • Proxy servers don’t provide any data encryption. They just change your IP address and location. To get the best data protection and online anonymity use VPN solutions.
  • If the location you selected to connect to a website is on the other side of the world, your Internet speed is likely to be slow. But you can ask the support team for help. The experts will select the most relevant IP addresses for your quickest connection.

Anonymous work on the Internet has become an urgent matter for millions of users worldwide and here came proxies offering a safe way to access and view any web content. The word “proxy” means a substitute for another which can be treated as someone or something has the right to act on behalf of another. Based on the name, a proxy server is a remote computer that becomes an intermediary between a user and a web resource in the Internet surfing. The main purpose of a proxy server is to change your IP address. That’s the simplest way to freely browse through the Internet. But full data protection, safeness, anonymity and other perks are VPN’s prerogative. Click here to learn more.