A Proxy Server has a ton of different uses and they work in many different ways. In this article I am going to explain the different ways in which a Proxy Server can function and also the different ways they can be used.
The three different ways that these proxies work are as follows:
A Reverse Proxy acts as an intermediary between the internet and the origin servers helping the origin servers. It makes the client side sites think that all of the requests are coming from itself when in fact they are coming from one or many other servers and all routed through it. They are referred to as a reverse proxy's because it is helping the associated servers instead of the associated clients.
Reverse proxies have many advantages including: act as an application fire wall to mitigate attacks from malware etc., it can act as a load balancer by distributing info to multiple different servers, it can compress content thereby optimizing performance, they can hide the existence of the origin servers.
Open Proxy (AKA Transparent Proxy) is a caching server that is accessible by any internet user. There are tons of open proxies in existence because they are the most common and they are widely used to conceal your IP address. When someone is using an open proxy they become anonymous and therefore they are popular with people wanting to do illegal things as it is harder for them to get caught.
The main benefit of open proxy servers is the anonymity, there are some draw backs too as there is a higher risk of malware infection, they can run very slow as many people are probably trying to download large file though them.
A Forward Proxy (normal type) regularly caches all requests. It works by listening for the clients requests for connectivity to a separate port. After the server receives the request and gets the content it will store a cached copy of the content on the server and then forward the content on. If the same page is then requested again by anyone then it will serve the cached copy instead of sending another request. This can significantly decrease page load time thereby making it much more efficient.
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