Understanding Proxy Servers

By Akshit Kumar
Published on March 6, 2021

What is a proxy server?

When you generally browse the web, your computer connects to a webserver to fetch content and downloads it for you to read. This process is direct and straightforward.

No Proxy

When you use a proxy server — you do not directly connect to a website's server, instead, you request the data from the proxy server you connected to, which then connects to the website's server, collects the data, and passes it back to you.

Basic Proxy

In-depth understanding of how a proxy server functions

Every computer connected to the Internet is required to have an IP address assigned to itself that works as its identification. Think of this as your phone number. Just as your friends know what number to call so they can reach you, the internet knows how to send the correct data to the correct computer by the IP address.

A proxy server is a computer on the internet with its IP address that your computer knows. When you send a web request, your request goes to the proxy server first. The proxy server then makes your web request on your behalf, collects the response from the webserver, and forwards you the web page data so you can see the page in your browser.

When the proxy server forwards your web requests, it can make changes to the data you send and still get you the information that you expect to see. A proxy server can change your IP address, so the webserver doesn’t know exactly where you are in the world. It can encrypt your data, so your data is unreadable in transit. And lastly, a proxy server can block access to certain web pages, based on IP address.

Why do people use proxy servers?

Proxy servers are still widely in use by individuals and organizations. Some of these uses are:

Risks associated with proxy servers

Now, that you know the benefits of using a proxy server, take a look at the risks of using one:

Types of proxy servers

Not all proxy servers function in the same way or use the same protocols. It is important to understand the features of a proxy server and find one that best caters to your needs.

Since people around the world use proxy servers without knowing what they are or how they work, I wrote this little piece to briefly explain proxy servers. If you liked it, please consider sharing it. Until next time.