The term “proxy” is a reference to the fact that a proxy or proxy server is software that functions as mediator between client and server on the internet. Without the use of a proxy, a user could submit a request for the server directly and the server will provide the requested resource directly to the user. Although this approach is simple to understand and implement with proxy servers, it does offer advantages in terms of enhanced performance privacy, security, and many more. In addition, a pass-through a proxy serves as a security safeguard for the internet between clients and servers.

The combined combination of server hardware and installed proxy software is generally called proxy servers. This article will focus on proxies which are usually described as software as well as being used in conjunction with web servers. This article will give a description of the two primary types: namely a forward proxy and reverse proxy. reverse proxy. Each kind has its own unique usage scenario, which is often confused due to the similar namesake convention.

This article will give you the understanding of what subtypes and proxies include and the things they accomplish in commonly used configurations. After reading this article, it will be able to identify the situations in which the use of proxies is advantageous and select the best choice between forward proxy and reverse proxy for any particular scenario.

Understanding Forward Proxies

Forward proxy also referred to as the open proxy is an agent used by a user who is trying to send an internet request to a source server. In this instance, the entire effort to send requests made by the client will instead be directed by an forward proxy. The forward proxy, acting on behalf of the client will review the request. It will first determine whether clients are authorized to send requests through this specific forward proxy. It then decides whether to refuse requests or redirect it to the server that originally made the request. The client doesn’t have a an internet connection directly. It is able to access only the information that forward proxy allows it to connect to.

The most common reason for using forward proxy is the need for greater privacy or security when surfing the web. A forward proxy links to internet instead of the client, and in this process, it uses an IP address distinct from the IP address used by the user.

Based on the way it has been configured, the forward proxy can provide many functions, based on how it is configured that lets you:

Forward proxies can also be utilized in systems that offer centralized security and access based on permissions such as in workplaces. If all internet traffic flows via an open forward proxy an administrator can restrict access to a limited number of users to the internet. This is blocked by the standard firewall. Instead of establishing firewalls at clients, the layer can include multiple devices that have different settings and users the firewall could be installed at the layer that forwards proxy traffic.

It is important to be aware of the fact that forward proxy servers need to be manually configured to be used, while reverse proxies can be ignored from the clients. Depending on the type IP address of the user, it is sent to the server that originated it through the forward proxy, privacy and anonymity could be granted or kept in the dark.

There are numerous options to consider in the case of forward proxy alternatives:

Understanding Reverse Proxies

A reverse proxy functions as the agent of a web server which manages requests from users for. The web server may consist of a single server or a number of servers. It could also serve for application servers like Gunicorn. In all cases, the request will be made via the internet in general. In the majority of cases, your request is made directly to the server hosting the information that the user is seeking. Reverse proxy acts as an intermediary, detaching this webserver from direct connections with the open internet.

From the point of view of a user, the experience of using reverse proxy is not different than interacting with the webserver in direct contact. It’s essentially the same but the client is unable to be able to discern the difference. The client makes a request for an item and gets it without any additional configuration needed for the customer.

Reverse proxy providers provide features like:

While central security is a benefit of both forward and reverse proxy servers. However, reverse proxies offer this advantage only to the server layer, not to the layer that clients use. instead of the maintenance of firewalls at the web server layer which may comprise several servers with different configurations, the majority in firewall protection is centered at the layer of reverse proxy. Furthermore, taking the burden of interfacing with firewalls as well as responding to requests from clients without web servers allows them to focus on meeting the requirements of their customers.

When there’s multiple servers running in a reverse proxy, the reverse proxy is responsible for the direction of which requests are directed to which servers. There could be several web servers that provide the same service, but each offering different kinds of resources or a combination of both. They can use their HTTP protocol to operate as a normal web server, but they can also be equipped with application server protocols like FastCGI. It is possible to create reverse proxy servers to redirect users to specific servers according to the requested resource, or adhere to certain guidelines regarding the load of traffic.

Reverse proxies also can benefit from their positioning above web servers by offering the capability to store data. Massive static resources can be created with caching rules to avoid from hitting web servers with each request. Certain solutions allow the delivery of static files without needing to connect to a web server in any way. In addition reverse proxy can be used to compress these files.

The popular Nginx web server can also function as an extremely popular reverse proxy option. Even though Apache can also be regarded as a reverse proxy service but it is not a reverse proxy solution. Apache web server has a reverse proxy capabilities as an additional option to Apache however Nginx was originally designed and is focused specifically on reverse proxy features.

Differentiating Forward and Reverse Proxy Use Examples

Since “forward” as well as “reverse” are associated with an impression of directionality, and false comparisons with “incoming” as well as “outgoing” traffic and can be confusing since both types of proxies handle requests and responses. The best way to differentiate between reverse and forward proxy is to look at the requirements of the application you’re creating.

A reverse proxy can be helpful in the design of a solution to provide web-based services over the internet. They act as your web server when you interact on the web.

Forward proxy is useful when placed in front of customers to use for personal purposes, or in a work setting. They are a representation of your client’s traffic when you interact with the internet.

The use case-based differentiation instead of using the most common naming conventions can help in eliminating confusion.


In this article, we clarified the definition of a proxy using two primary types that are forward and reverse proxy. Examples of practical use as well as a discussion of most beneficial features were used to differentiate between forward and reverse proxy. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits for proxy servers learn how to set up Nginx as an Internet server and reverse proxy for Apache in an Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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