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What Is a Proxy Server?
A proxy server is a machine placed in a physical location through which users from anywhere can connect to the internet as if they are located in its position. The word “proxy” is derived from the Latin word “Proximus,” which means “close.”
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A proxy server is actually a server that routes users’ internet connection through its own and becomes in charge of processing the web content coming from the webserver to your browser. When you use a proxy, the webpage on the other side will not be able to detect your original IP as the webpage interacts with the proxy, and the proxy, in turn, interacts with your computer to show the requested webpage.
A paid proxy server can be used for various purposes such as:
- To keep users’ machines anonymous, mainly for security.
- To speed up access to resources (using caching). Web proxies are commonly used to cache web pages from a web server.
- To apply access policy to network services or content, e.g. to block undesired sites.
- To access sites prohibited or filtered by your ISP or institution.
- To bypass security / parental controls.
- To scan transmitted content for malware before delivery.
- To scan outbound content, e.g., for data loss prevention.
One type of proxy server is called a transparent proxy server. While other types of proxies necessitate that a web browser must point to the proxy, the transparent proxy server does not need a web browser to be configured. Within corporations or governmental or educational organizations, transparent proxies are often used to limit users’ access to certain web content or to provide added protection from viruses, malware, and other intruders.
One of the most common uses of web proxies is for accessing geo-targeted content that cannot be accessed from anywhere else in the world other than from the targeted location. For example, some Italian sites may restrict their content only to Italian users, which means only for people who are physically located in Italy. If you are located in the United States and wish to view this content on the Italian side, you won’t be able to do so from your regular machine. By browsing through an Italian proxy, you may “fake” your locations so that the site thinks you are indeed located in Italy. This way, you will be able to get the relevant web page content.