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What is a Proxy

Tony Lea

What is a Proxy

You may have heard the term proxy before and if you are not too familiar with what that means, we'll cover that in this article. It's actually quite simple.

When someone says the word proxy when referring to computers, they are probably talking about a proxy server, which in it's simplest form is a server which routes traffic between you and the internet. To help make this a little more clear let's first define the term proxy.

What does Proxy mean?

The word proxy means `the authority to represent someone else`. This should make sense that a proxy server is a server that is given authority to represent you.

When you visit a website your IP address and location can be retrieved by that website; however, if you are using a proxy server, your IP and location will be hidden from that website.

Why Use a Proxy?

There are many reasons that you want to use a proxy, here are a few of the most common reasons.

  1. You may be in a network that prevents users from accessing particular websites; however, if you connect to a web proxy you may be able to bypass the network settings and access blocked websites.
  2. In some cases you can connect to a secure proxy which will result in a more secure and encrypted connection.
  3. Since you are no longer using your IP address there is an additional layer of privacy when you use a proxy server.

Cons of a Proxy

There are also a few negative sides of using a proxy which include:

  1. Slower internet connection. Since you are connecting to an additional server you may notice a decrease in speed.
  2. Blocked sites. Some sites will not allow proxy connections so you may be blocked from a few websites.

Reverse Proxy Server

There are also many cases when you might need to setup a proxy server to solve a programming problem. For example you may be able to proxy an NGINX route to another server or another application. In this case the server is essentially acting as another server, and this is referred to as a Reverse Proxy Server.

There you have it, a simple explanation of a Proxy server and why you may want to use it.