What Is a Proxy Server?

Proxy servers will most definitely pop up in your search results if you research topics covering online identity, web scraping, and web crawling. The question you can end up asking yourself is whether you need a proxy server for you or for business needs? If you extend your research, you’ll encounter even more technical terms such as HTTP proxy, residential proxy, and rotating proxy.

Instead of finding a clear answer, the chances are that you’ll be even more confused. To make a smart decision, you need to understand what a proxy is and learn to use cases of specific proxy server types. Below you can find answers to all your questions, including what HTTP proxy is and more.

What Is a Proxy Server?

Don’t worry – we don’t have to get into details of how the internet works to help you understand what a proxy server is. A proxy server specifically works as your gateway to the world wide web.

Let’s say you want to access your favorite website. Without a proxy server, you directly contact the website, and the website directly sends the information back to you. When you use a proxy server, it acts as an intermediary.

Your request goes to a proxy server. The proxy server then forwards it to the website. Website returns the data to a proxy server, and it then returns it back to you.

What Makes It Different From Other Servers?

If you choose any proxy server such as HTTP proxy, dedicated proxy, or private proxy and compare it to a regular web server, you will notice some differences. The differences are technical in nature. The most noteworthy difference is the specific configuration of a proxy server. In fact, they are the only servers set up to act on behalf of the client computer.

Additionally, proxy servers can be configured to provide different levels of functionality – they can hide the client’s computer IP address, increase online security, enable clients to manipulate HTTP headers, which is the case with an HTTP proxy, or achieve online privacy.

Proxy servers can have one IP address or access a pool of thousands of IP addresses they can assign to the client’s computer. You can configure them to filter traffic by different criteria.

Types of Proxies Important for Businesses

While there are a dozen proxy types, some are more important for businesses than the others. Let’s quickly go through these proxy server types.

Residential proxy – The residential proxy IP address is a real one. These proxy servers have a subnetwork of devices with real physical locations and unique IP addresses, provided by ISPs (Internet Service Providers). Connecting via these proxies doesn’t raise any red flags, and businesses use them to by-pass the most sophisticated anti-scraping measures.

Datacenter proxy – Datacenter proxy IP address pool contains non-physical IP addresses. The IP addresses are artificially created by secondary corporations like data centers. However, in return, these proxy servers offer businesses unparalleled bandwidth and low latency.

HTTP proxy – HTTP proxy enables clients to have complete control over HTTP requests and responses. You can use them to block complete URL paths, choose preferable request and response methods, and configure header fields to make your bot-traffic less noticeable, filter content types and cookies, and identify suspicious packets.

Dedicated proxy – Dedicated proxies are reserved for one client. It ensures that a client has exclusive access to IP addresses offered through the proxy server. It removes the risk of using an IP address that has been flagged suspicious while it was used by someone else.

Rotating proxy – Rotating proxies have a large IP address pool. They are configured to automatically assign a new IP address to the client’s every request. Rotating proxy can have residential proxies in its network to make the requests less noticeable by anti-scraping measures.

Common Application and Benefits

The proxy server offers many benefits and has several use cases, whether used by an individual or organization. The most noteworthy benefit is better online security and privacy. A proxy server assigns you a brand new IP address and lets you hide your physical IP address, making it impossible for web servers or cybercriminals to detect your location.

Some specific proxy types, such as an HTTP proxy, enable you to add additional security layers and protect your business. For instance, you control what content your employees download, set the categories of trusted web sites, block downloads, and disable specific cookies.

Businesses opt for using proxy servers to power their web scraping operations. Web scraping enables businesses to pull public data from websites to make smarter decisions. Common use cases include gathering price data from competitors, detailed competitor research, and gauging customer sentiment.

Conclusion

The concept of a proxy server is not something too difficult to grasp. It’s a simple gateway between you and the Internet. Several proxy servers are used by businesses regularly, such as HTTP proxy, residential proxy, and rotating proxy. Feel free to continue your research to find the right proxy type for your organization.

 

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