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In this article, we’ll answer questions commonly asked among the web scraping community on what is a proxy.
Define: proxy server
A proxy server acts as an intermediary between a client, and a ‘target website’. This essentially means that traffic is routed through servers on its way to/from destination sites. This architecture may be put into place for a variety of reasons:
Increased network performance
Achieving better data/information security (i.e. serving as a firewall or filter of sorts)
Caching data in a way that helps streamline requests that often repeat themselves
Enabling better privacy
Enhancing data collection success rates by routing requests for information through local IP addresses
How a Proxy Works
Because a proxy server has its own IP address, it acts as a go-between for a computer and the internet. Your computer knows this address, and when you send a request on the internet, it is routed to the proxy, which then gets the response from the web server and forwards the data from the page to your computer’s browser, like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.
Advantages of a proxy server
Proxy servers come with several benefits that can give businesses an advantage. They can act as a firewall between systems and the internet, helping to keep hackers out. They can also provide an opportunity to collect IP-specific data, as well as giving users access to location-specific content. By designating a proxy server with an address associated with another country, businesses can functionally operate in multiple locations (e.g. managing various eCommerce stores using a local IP address or collecting Google search trends specific to a certain city). This can be a valuable tool for companies looking to expand their reach, discovering new target markets/audiences, as well as operating in multiple markets.
To simplify, some key benefits include:
Better security: A proxy server can be used to improve security by using IP addresses not currently identified with the company.
Quicker performance: A proxy server can improve performance by caching web pages and files.
Heightened security: A proxy server can help protect the company from Denial-of-service attacks (DDoS), for example.
Monitoring traffic: A proxy server can be used to filter traffic.
Data collection: Proxies enable companies to gain access to information that is correct from a user / geolocation perspective. For example, if obtaining the correct pricing for a competitor’s product being sold in San Diego.
Types of proxies
There are many different types of proxy servers currently available, each with its own unique capabilities and features.
Reverse Proxy: A reverse proxy is a type of proxy server that takes requests from clients and forwards them to another server. A reverse proxy can be used to load balance traffic or improve performance by caching content from the destination server. It can mainly help improve server performance, security, and reliability.
Forward Proxy: A forward proxy is one of the most common types of proxy servers currently in use. Typically, it is used in order to transfer requests from a ‘sheltered’ network vis-a-vis a firewall (that decides whether or not a request should be allowed to pass through). Forward proxies are most commonly used to boost internal network security by filtering internal/external exchange of information between ‘clients’ and ‘target sites’ on the web.
SSL Proxy: An SSL proxy is a type of transparent proxy server that encrypts/decrypts traffic between the client and the proxy server. SSL proxies are typically beneficial in obtaining granular application information so that companies can implement advanced/strong security protocols, as well as client/server ciphers. It also gives security teams improved visibility of potential threats that may be embedded in SSL encrypted traffic.
Anonymous Proxy: An anonymous proxy is a type of proxy server that does not reveal the identity of the client to the destination server. By hiding the origin IP address, ‘anonymizers’, as they are often called, enable companies to geo/IP-based-blocks as well as misrepresentation of target data. They are also sometimes used in order to avoid having competitor marketing material or search results being tailored to your IP’s browsing history. This enables companies to get a non-biased view of the internet and avoid things like ‘cookies’ or other identifiers from impacting information being collected.
Transparent Proxy: A transparent proxy is a type of proxy server that can intercept a ‘client’s activity’ with a target site. For example, a student browsing Wikipedia on the university’s network may think he or she is viewing the original article but really it is being served to them via a transparent proxy running on the university’s network. Transparent proxies are typically used in order to control user access to certain websites, protocols, or ports.
Public Proxy: A public proxy is a type of proxy server that is accessible to anyone on the Internet. It allows users to browse the web anonymously, but is typically considered unsafe and is not an option that should be considered by businesses. This is because security tends to be weak, defeating the purpose of using a proxy in the first place.
Data Center Proxy: A data center proxy is a type of proxy server that is located in a data center, and is not affiliated with any Internet Service Provider (ISP). A high number of IP addresses are typically assigned to a single server through which all designated traffic will then be routed.Data center proxies are chosen by companies due to their speed, low operating costs, as well as maintaining data origin uniformity for use cases where this is integral.
Residential Proxy: A residential proxy is a type of proxy server that is based on an international network of real user IPs. Real individuals choose to opt their devices into the network in exchange for a benefit such as an ad-free app experience. In exchange, they allow businesses to route traffic vis-a-vis their devices.Residential proxies can be used to collect data from sophisticated target sites, view information from a real/local consumer perspective, as well as enabling an increased quantity of concurrent data requests.
Internet Service Provider (ISP) Proxy: An ISP proxy is a type of proxy server that leverages IPs that are assigned real places of residence but are designated for commercial use. Target sites view, and treat requests as if they originated from real places of residence meaning companies can gain access to quicker speeds coupled with higher success rates.ISP proxies can be used to manage social media/eCommerce accounts located in different geographies, as well as geo-specific web data collection regarding social sentiment, and product trends/pricing. As well as any other use case that can benefit from real domestic IPs in different geolocations.
Mobile Proxy: A mobile proxy is a type of proxy server that leverages 3/4G cellular devices, enabling users to choose from different mobile carriers.Mobile proxies can be used to applications, ads, and mobile-based programs directly from a desktop in order to perform Quality Assurance (QA), as well as test geo-specific User Experiences (UX).
Proxy server FAQs
1. What is a proxy server?
A proxy server is a computer that acts as an intermediary between your computer and the Internet. When you connect to the Internet, you are actually connecting to the proxy server, which then connects you to the website or service you want to use. Proxy servers can be used for a variety of purposes, such as improving security/performance, as well as collecting accurate client-facing data points.
2. When do I need to use the proxy server?
If you are accessing the Internet from behind a firewall, you will need to use a proxy server in order to be able to view certain websites. A proxy server is a computer that acts as an intermediary between your computer and the Internet. It allows you to access, and collect data from websites that might otherwise be blocked, or serve you misleading information.
3. What is a proxy service?
A proxy service is an intermediary that allows communication between two services or applications. It acts as a go-between, providing a layer of security and shielding the identity of the source user.
Proxy services provide a number of benefits, including increased security and privacy, as well as the ability to bypass censorship and content restrictions. Additionally, proxy services can be used to improve performance by caching content and reducing the number of requests that need to be made to the server.
Finally, you can use the PIA proxy service to break through IP restrictions and conduct business, such as:
Register accounts in batches: Address IP bans. Realize batch account registration for Instagram, facebook, twitter
add more followers: 50 million residential proxies worldwide. Help YouTube, Snapchat, Discord grow fans steadily.
Lots of comments and likes: True Residential proxies. Quickly get more popular social media comments and likes on Tiktok, ins, VK.
Lots of positive reviews: Need lots of positive reviews? Solve IP restrictions and achieve unlimited praise on Trustpilot, google, Clutch.co.
lots of tweets: Real residential IP, reducing the chance of IP being blocked, providing unlimited posts or tweets for blogs such as twitter and Pinterest.
retail snap: IP for real desktop and mobile devices, compatible with retail snaps such as sneakers, eBay, shopify, craigslist, amazon, etc.
Wireless app installation: Unlimited connections and change IP location anytime. Get more ios and android application installations, and improve the ranking of APP store and Google Play!
wireless website traffic: Rotating proxy mode. The best way to get more website traffic and improve your website's ranking in Google search engine!