People are talking about proxy servers nowadays. But what is it? What is it used for? That’s what we’ll discuss today.
What is an IP address?
We need to know about IP addresses before we talk about proxies. IP address, i.e., Internet Protocol address, is a unique address every computer has on the Internet. If it’s a little complex for you to understand, you can think about it as your home’s street address. Sometimes you’ll ask others to mail or deliver goods or food to your house. They’ll need your street address so that they’ll send the mail or delivery to the correct location.
The IP address is just like your house address on the Internet.
If you have access to the Internet, you’ll be given an IP address by your Internet service provider (ISP). With an IP address, you can send and receive information to or from the Internet. Usually, every device which has access to the Internet has a unique IP.
What is a proxy server?
A proxy server is just like the post office in your street. You leave the address and contact of the post office, others send mail to it. And then the postman delivers it to your house.
A proxy server is a system or router that acts as a gateway between users and the Internet. When a user requests on the Internet with a proxy, instead of going to the target website directly, the request is sent to the proxy server. Then the proxy server sends the request and retrieves data on the Internet and gives it back to the user.
How do proxies work?
So a typical proxy server works like this:
A user visits a website or software.
--> The request was sent to the proxy server.
--> The proxy server forwards the request to the web server.
--> The web server sends the data back to the proxy server.
--> The proxy server forwards the data to the user.
--> The user receives the data he/she needs.
What are proxies used for?
You may wonder why bother surfing online with proxies. It seems it’s easier to visit a website with your IP. Proxies have various usages. Most of them are related to online security and protection.
It’s easy for others to track your IP address and online behavior if you don’t use proxies, which may cause some malicious online attacks or private information theft afterward. While proxies can be data security boundaries, protecting users from these activities online. That’s because when you use proxies, the web server won’t know your real IP. Your online behavior would be highly anonymous.
Apart from that, some sites may have a restriction on IP location or display different content for different regions, such as some stream media sites, and shopping sites. Therefore, people may change their IP with proxies to check the content in other regions on the site. Proxies are also used by enterprises to protect their brand and do web scraping.
With the development of the Internet, people pay much more attention to online security, and websites set much more limitations on IPs to protect themselves. Proxies have been playing a more and more important role in the technology world.