A proxy or a proxy server is an intermediary between a user and the internet resources. When utilizing a proxy, the user’s request is processed via the proxy server first, and only then the proxy server connects to the required web server asking to fulfill the initial request. The use of proxy allows hiding the user’s real IP address.
Internet, if possible, we use it everywhere to accompany our needs and wants. However, just like many of us tend to overlook reading manuals and instructions, we also tend to ignore just how the internet works.
Then we hear about data leaks, identity frauds, proxy, proxy server, and other various online buzz words, and such questions might pop up as – what happens when we browse the internet? What is a proxy? Why use a proxy?
A proxy acts as an intermediary between you and the internet. When you’re using a proxy server, your request runs through the proxy server (which changes your IP address) first, and only then connects to the website.
This article aims to tackle the question on what proxy is. But to thoroughly understand this term and a proxy’s purpose, we will have to dig a little deeper.
What happens when we browse the internet?
Every computer or device on the internet has its Internet Protocol (IP) address. This IP address is assigned by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs). An IP address is a necessity to communicate with other resources online.
As you might be aware, every time you go online your website history gets tracked by either your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or the said website you visit. It is an IP address that allows pinpointing your behavior online. What’s more, an IP address also enables sites to identify your location, sometimes even to a street level.
Nowadays, people start to understand that personal data is becoming a currency. However, such factors as special intimacy tied to a location or exceeded user profiling among many others are the trade-offs that many find unacceptable.
Luckily, there are ways to cover your tracks online, and one of them is by using a proxy, also known as a proxy server.
What is a proxy?
As already mentioned, a proxy or a proxy server acts as an intermediary between you and the internet. So, when utilizing a proxy server, your internet request travels through the proxy server first, and only then connects to online resources.
A proxy has its own IP address, and when your internet requests are processed via a proxy server, it simply handles your web request on your behalf. Once a proxy server collects the response from the web servers, it passes it to you, ensuring enhanced levels of anonymity, as your real IP address is not exposed.
Why use a proxy?
There are several reasons individuals or organizations use a proxy.
Firstly, on a regular internet user’s level, a proxy comes in handy if there is a need to browse the internet more privately. On top of the privacy factor, proxy servers also improve security levels, as if the proxy server is correctly configured users can encrypt internet requests.
What’s more, a proxy tied to a specific location can unlock geo-blocked content, even if the real IP address doesn’t have the privilege to access this particular information.
Now on a business’s level, the same factors come into play as discussed above. Furthermore, proxy servers are widely used internally to control and monitor internet usage among the organizations itself.
Externally, many businesses use proxies to carry out their day to day operations. For instance, ad verification companies harness proxies to check advertisers’ landing pages anonymously. Whereas, travel fare aggregators use proxies to scrape flight prices without IP blocks or bans.
Proxies can also be used to get pricing data, buy limited edition products, create and manage social media accounts, and for many other reasons.
Types of proxy
By now, you should have a decent idea of what a proxy is. But to make things even more interesting, there are different types of proxies.
- A residential proxy is an IP address provided by an ISP to a homeowner. It is a real IP address attached to a physical location, thus allows to imitate an organic user behavior. By hiding your real IP behind this kind of proxy, the highest levels of anonymity can be achieved.
- A data center proxy is not affiliated with an Internet Service Provider (ISP), and it only imitates a real internet connection. They come from a secondary corporation and provide you with completely private IP authentication and anonymity.
Now taking even a step further, proxies can be either private (dedicated), semi-dedicated or shared.
- A shared proxy is used by multiple users at the same time, meaning it will also be accessible to other end users. Shared proxies tend to lack on overall performance, and comes with various potential attached risks.
- A semi-dedicated proxy is an upgrade in comparison to a shared proxy. Even though it is still shared, it is done so by only several users, which offers considerably better performance.
- A private proxy is used only by one user, and this kind of proxy, also known as a dedicated proxy, provide a user with completely private IP authentication, anonymity, and high overall performance level.
The bottom line
So, whether you want to improve your security levels online, access blocked content, or in businesses case collect data anonymously without IP bans and limitations, you will need a reliable proxy service provider to do so.
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