What does a proxy mean?
In layman’s terms, a proxy means a delegate or an envoy who has been assigned as a representative for someone else. In tech terms, A proxy or proxy server means a component, usually another computer that manages the interactions with the internet from a LAN. In more basic terms, a proxy server is like a link between your computer and the internet. The proxy server collects your requests and web queries, searches for the information you want and gives you that information. Imagine it as an intermediary or a negotiator between your computer and other computers on the internet.
A proxy server is necessary when web content needs to be filtered, or there is a need to bypass restrictions. It is also used to protect user privacy when using the internet.
Why is it important?
A proxy server is important for people who want to protect their privacy and hide sensitive information about themselves when using the internet. The internet is such a huge and delicate place to stay open, that can leave you vulnerable to espionage, hacks and data theft. By using a proxy server, your computer’s IP address is masked by the proxy server’s IP address, so you can browse the internet in anonymity. Proxies can also be used to filter web content and restrict access to sites. Parents can use it to restrict their kids from visiting certain websites. Also, companies make use of proxy servers to make sure their employees use the internet for work related activities while they are at work. Proxies can also help to improve browsing experience as it caches web pages that the user visits often.
Types of Proxy Servers?
There are various types of proxy servers you can use, both paid and free. However, paid proxies perform much better than the free ones. Ultimately, proxy servers fall into these 5 categories as highlighted below:
- SSL Proxy
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a proxy type that provides security and protection for user data during transmission and filling of forms. On websites, it is represented by a padlock next to the address bar in your browsers. You will also notice that the URL starts with https instead of HTTP. It stands as an intermediary between the transmitter of information and the receiver so as to prevent hacks and password thefts.
- FTP Server
File Transfer Protocol or FTP is useful when you are uploading information to a server. It encrypts the data being transferred and protects it from hacks and thefts.
- HTTP Proxy
The http proxy is useful for caching visited webpages so that the page can load faster when next the user needs to visit that webpage. It can also filter the contents of webpages and adjust them to fit whatever device you’re using.
Other proxy types include the SOCKS Proxy, which stands for SOCKets Proxy and is good for establishing IP tunnels and firewalls to protect data; and Anonymous Proxy. How then can you set up a proxy server?
On windows, you can set up a proxy server in windows fairly easily by going through Settings > Network and Internet > Proxy. Select the proxy tab and modify the proxy settings to your preference. Once you have set up your proxy settings, newer apps will use those settings without you having to set them up again and again.
On Mac OS
To modify proxy server settings on Apple Mac computers, go through System Preferences > Network > Advanced > Proxy. There, you will see a list of options you can use to modify the settings as you prefer. If you prefer manual settings, just fill in the IP address and port number of the server you want to use. Save your changes and you are all set.