Proxy – what is it and what is it for?

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A proxy server is, in direct translation, an “intermediary”, or in fact, a kind of security that lies between your computer and the Internet. Proxy stores data of the most frequently used websites and, if necessary, can also hide the network user’s IP number. The proxy server intercepts all access requests and delivers responses from the cache – this makes pages open faster and more efficiently. However, if the selected page is not stored in the proxy server’s memory, it loads the page from the server and creates a copy of it.

How are proxy servers used?

Proxy servers, due to their significant importance, are used for many purposes – private and business. Proxy can greatly improve network response performance. When a request is made by a computer user, the proxy loads the data directly from its cache – provided it has made a copy of the page first.

The proxy server also plays an extremely important role in terms of website content filtering. Therefore, many employers use such a solution in employee computers. The employed person, while working and using the Internet, may have blocked access to, for example, social media and websites dedicated strictly to entertainment. This is to prevent private misuse of the network during working hours. What may seem funny – employees can use a proxy gate to gain access to sites blocked by the employer.

Some web servers are able to format websites to fit a specific audience or to meet specific business and personnel needs. In addition, the proxy also has a security role. It can prevent malware and various types of viruses from being installed.

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Types of proxy servers
There are several types of proxies. The most popular can be divided according to their functionality and purpose, residential proxies.

A proxy server for caching websites and bypassing access blocking, otherwise known as transparent, does not hide the user’s original IP address. It does not provide any internet anonymity.
Web Proxy is one of the most common servers. Its main task is to increase the speed of displaying content. It facilitates efficient access to data. If the requested resource is not found in the cache, the web proxy will download the file from the remote server and cache a copy of it. Thanks to this, the requested page will load faster in the future.
A proxy server that provides anonymity on the network modifies HTTP headers to hide the original IP address.
The Tor network and VPN services have a similar principle of operation as a proxy. However, there are quite big differences between these two technologies. What? It has been described quite well on this site, where you will find a proxy, VPN, and Tor comparison.

Proxy advantages
Proxy servers have many advantages. First of all, they significantly affect network performance. To open a specific page quickly, the proxy downloads the cached content (if the page was previously loaded). This way, bandwidth usage is reduced and costs are cut – therefore, many large forms cannot imagine a form functioning without this service. In addition, it supports the monitoring and filtering of website content. This helps to control users’ online activities in schools and workplaces. Proxy also allows you to browse the web anonymously. It hides the user’s IP and location.

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As for the disadvantages – there are really few of them. What can be indicated as a negative feature of the proxy is the possibility of incorrect configuration, which can make it difficult to use the Internet. Proxy servers have unfortunately become a serious weapon used in cyber attacks. Due to the properties and characteristics of the proxy, it sometimes becomes impossible to track down cybercriminals. As you can see, online anonymity can have two faces.