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proxy, also known as proxy, also known as proxy or proxy server, is a server software that sits in the middle between a client and server on the internet. In the absence of an intermediary users would make a request to purchase something directly to a server, and servers would serve the resource directly back to the client. Although this approach is simple to understand and use, adding proxies offers benefits like improved performance, privacy, security, and much more. A pass-through layer proxy acts as a gatekeeper of the internet between servers and users.



Generally speaking generally speaking, the bundle of server hardware and proxy software is described as proxy servers. But, this article will concentrate on proxy servers which are usually referred to as software, and those used together with web servers. We will present a summary of the two types that are available, which is forward and reverse proxy. forward proxy and a reverse proxy. Each comes with its own specific use case, and can be misinterpreted due to the same terminology.



This article will give you an idea of the types of proxy services and what their subtypes are, as well being able to explain how they can be useful in the common configurations. Through this article, you will be able to recognize the scenarios where you could benefit from proxy services and decide on the best alternative between forward and reverse proxy for any particular situation.



Understanding Forward Proxies



The forward proxy also known as an open proxy is an agent of a user who wishes to send a request through the internet to the server that made it. In this scenario it is the case that all requests made by the client should be directed straight to the forward proxy. Forward proxy in the place of the client, will look over the request. In the beginning, it will determine if the client can accept requests through this specific forward proxy. It will then refuse requests or redirect it to the original server. The client doesn't have a an internet connection directly; it can only access what forward proxy grants the client access.



The most common reason to utilize forward proxy servers is to improve security or privacy online. Forward proxy allows you to connect to the internet in place of clients, and in the process, it uses an IP address that is different from the original IP address that the client uses.



Based on how it has been configured according to the way it was configured forward proxy may grant you various features as well as the ability to:



  • Stay clear of tracking ads.

  • Circumvent surveillance.

  • You can identify restrictions based upon your geographic place of residence.


Forward proxies are also used in systems to provide central security, as well as permission-based access, like at work. If all internet traffic flows via an open forward proxy, an administrator is able to grant access only to specific people to connect on the internet. The web is blocked by a standard firewall. Instead of keeping firewalls in place on the client layer that can comprise a range of devices that are different in terms of user and environments, a firewall could be placed at an forward proxy layer.



Remember that forward proxies have to be manually setup before they can be used to use them in a reverse proxy, whereas forward proxy servers are not able to be detected by the user. Based on the fact that an IP address for the user is transmitted to the server that generated it through the forward proxy privacy and anonymity may be granted or left transparent.



There are many possibilities to consider for forward proxies:



  • Apache An open source, well-known web server that provides forward proxy functionality.

  • Nginx is another well-known open-source server for web hosting that has forward proxy capability.

  • Squid: A free forward proxy which uses the HTTP protocol. It's not a complete Web server. Read our guide on how you can set up Squid proxy to allow private connections within Ubuntu 20.04.

  • Dante Forward proxy that uses the SOCKS protocol instead of HTTP to make it more suitable for use scenarios such as peer-to -peer traffic. It is also possible to look at how you can set up Dante proxy to allow private connections on Ubuntu 20.04


Understanding Reverse Proxies



A reverse proxy functions as an intermediary for the web server which takes care of any requests that come in from clients on its behalf. Web servers can represent one or more servers. It could also represent an application servers like Gunicorn. In all of these scenarios, the request for an application comes by a user who is on the internet. Most of the time, the request will go directly to the server that hosts the data the user wants. In contrast reverse proxy acts as an intermediary in order to shield Web servers from direct contact with the open internet.



From the point of view of the user that is a user's viewpoint, interfacing using reverse proxy is any different from working with Web server in direct contact. It is functionally the same as the web server and the client is unable discern the difference. Clients can request the resource, and receive it, without any additional configuration required by the user.



Reverse proxy proxies provide the following features:



  • Secured centrally for Web Server Layer.

  • Directing incoming traffic by implementing rules that you establish.

  • The caching functionality was added to the application.


While central security is a benefit of both reverse and forward proxy services, reverse proxies do this feature to only the layer of web servers and not the client layer. Instead of focusing on the maintenance of firewalls in the web server layer, which can contain several servers that are configured differently the majority of the firewall security is aimed on the reverse proxy layer. Also, the removal of the responsibility to interact with a firewall and connecting with requests from customers via web servers allows them to concentrate on satisfying the requirements of their customers.



If there are multiple servers running through reverse proxy, the reverse proxy could also be accountable for directing which requests are directed through which server. There may be several web servers hosting the same resource, however each of them offering a different kind of resources or a combination of both. They can use the HTTP protocol to function as a standard web server, however they could also incorporate protocols for applications such as FastCGI. You can configure reverse proxy in order to redirect visitors to specific servers based on the kind of resource they are looking for, or to adhere to specific rules for traffic load.



Reverse proxies are also able to utilize their position before web servers, by providing the capacity of caching. Large static assets can be in a position to be set up using caching rules that prevent them from getting into web servers with every request. There are options that offer the possibility of providing static files directly without connecting directly to the website server. Furthermore, the reverse proxy is able to manage compression of these assets.



The renowned Nginx website server a popular reverse proxy option.

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