Many netizens have come across the term proxy server more than once. But few people know what he really is. For some, it is associated with some specific terms of system administrators, for others it is associated with hackers who use proxies to hack computers over the Internet. So what is a proxy server and why is it useful at all? Let’s try to figure it out
What is a proxy server
A proxy server is a remote computer that acts as an intermediary between you and network resources. In other words, it is a gateway through which information flows in both directions.
Let’s say you want to open a website. In this case, the request from your computer goes to the proxy server, from where, after further processing, it goes directly to the web resource. In the opposite direction, it works in exactly the same way – information from the server enters the remote computer and returns to your PC after processing. This can provide several benefits, which we will discuss below.
Increasing the speed of data processing
A proxy server is often used by providers to provide faster access to popular Internet resources. How it works? Try to at least approximately imagine how many customers of your Internet provider access popular Internet resources daily. And on these resources, as well as on most modern sites, there is a huge variety of pictures, banners and other information. It would be unwise to download it from the Internet every time. That’s why providers use them everywhere.
Since all data processing occurs through a proxy (note that you are not the only one using it), data from sites is cached on the hard drive of the remote computer. Considering that the average speed of the Internet channel is approximately 3-5 Mbps, and the speed between the proxy server and your PC is 100 Mbps (do not forget that when using this program your computer is an element of the local network), then the difference is noticeable. No, of course, the pictures weigh so little that there is little difference. And imagine how it is with more "heavy" content – movies, music, etc. Here the difference is much higher.
Knowing the functions and capabilities of this connection, you can easily bypass bans and blacklists of various Internet resources. This is especially true in various chats and forums. Considering that your computer was blocked, and the proxy server is a completely different computer, with a different network address, you can be sure that the ban list system will not recognize your PC and will allow you to communicate further.
As you can see, this approach is very simple, but at the same time quite effective. In the same way, you can access resources that are closed to visit by your system administrator. After all, he does not sit all day, tracking your actions on the network – programs do this. And thanks to such a connection, it is quite easy to “deceive" the program.
Anonymity of the network
If you do not want your computer to leave any traces of your Internet activity, then using a proxy server will allow you to work in stealth mode. This, again, is achieved due to the fact that the IP address of not your PC appears on the network, but the PC of the proxy server. This method is used by attackers working on the Internet. This is where the stereotype came from that this connection is a tool of hackers (still the same reference to Hollywood films).
However, more often, the anonymity of work is used, on the contrary, to ensure the security of computers within the local network. In this case, the proxy server is an intermediary between the entire local network and the Internet. Your computer will not be visible "outside", from the Web. Like all other computers on your network, except for that very proxy server. In other words, your entire network will look like one – a single computer. This ensures the security of each individual segment in the network. And that means important documents stored on your PC.
Where else is it used
Typically, a proxy server is not so important for an ordinary user and is practically not used in everyday work. And in most cases, the presence of such a server goes unnoticed by the user. However, if you need to use it, then you can meet it in your browser settings, for example. This approach is the simplest and allows you to "mask" the computer’s IP address. Also, this type of connection is found in the form of separate applications that give you much more options.
Have you come across a resource that is only available to users from a certain country? Or is there a promotion available, say, only to users from the USA? In these cases, the use of such applications is fully justified – they allow you to "disguise" your computer in such a way that the system will think that you are from the USA, Germany, and any other country you choose.
But not only personal computers and laptops can boast the ability to work with proxy servers. Mobile devices also have this feature. Quite often, on mobile forums, in topics devoted to setting up an Internet connection, questions from the series “what is a proxy server or url address” pop up, why this menu item is needed, and what should be written in it. It is this item that is responsible for setting up on mobile devices.
This article, of course, describes the capabilities of proxy servers very superficially, but it allows you to give at least a brief idea of some functions, explain why this type of connection is needed, what it is, and simply dispel some myths associated with this concept. This means bringing the user one step closer to understanding the principles of operation of modern networks and showing him even more opportunities and ways to work on the Internet.