The term “proxy” refers to a proxy, also called a proxy server software, serves to act as a mediator between server and client on the internet. Without the proxy, a client could send a request to a resource directly to a server and the server would then serve the requested resource directly back for the client. Although this method is easy to comprehend and implement, adding proxies offers advantages such as increased performance, privacy, security, and more. As a pass-through layer, the proxy serves as a guardian for the internet between servers and clients.

Generally speaking, the combination of server hardware and installed proxy software is commonly called proxy servers. This article will focus on proxies which are generally classified as software in the context of web servers. This article will present a detailed breakdown of two types: the forward proxy and reverse proxy. reverse proxy. Each type has its own usage situation, and it is frequently misunderstood because of the identical terms.

This article will provide details on what proxy services and subtypes are and the way they work in various configurations. By reading this article, you will be able to identify the instances where the use of proxies is advantageous and pick the right solution for reverse or forward proxy for any particular scenario.

Understanding Forward Proxies

The forward proxy sometimes called the open proxy serves as a representative for a user who wishes to send an internet request to the server which originated it. In this situation, the entire attempt to send requests from the user will be made via the forward proxy. A forward proxy acting instead of the client, will look at the request. Then, it determines if this client is authorized to transmit requests using this specific forward proxy. Then, it decides to refuse any request or forward it to the source server. The client does not have direct connection to the internet. It can access only what forward proxy allows it to access.

One of the most popular uses for forward proxies is increased privacy or security while using the internet. Forward proxy allows access to the internet instead of a client, and as such it may make use of an IP address that is different from the IP address that was originally used by the client.

Depending on how it has been configured, based on the way it’s set up forward proxy can grant you various features depending on how it is configured and enables you to:

Forward proxies can also be used for security systems which are centralized as well as access that is permission-based for instance, such as at work. If all traffic on the internet passes via an open forward proxy the administrator is able to permit just a handful of users connection to internet by the standard firewall. Instead of setting up firewalls for the client layer that could include a variety of devices that operate in different environments and types of users A firewall can be positioned in the front proxy level.

It is crucial to keep in mind that forward proxies must be manually setup in order to be used, whereas reverse proxies can be hidden from the user. Based on the type of IP address of the user, they are transferred to the server from which it originated via forward proxy Privacy and anonymity may be granted or denied.

There are numerous options to consider for forward proxies.

Understanding Reverse Proxies

A reverse proxy acts as an agent for a web server, which handles any requests that come in from clients on its behalf. The web server could comprise one or more servers. It could also be an application-server like Gunicorn. In either of these scenarios the request will be made via the web in general. Most of the time requests will then be sent directly to the web server along with the resources the user is looking for. Reverse proxy acts as an intermediary, isolating the webserver from direct communications with the internet.

From the perspective of a user, the experience of using reverse proxy is not different than communicating with an internet server directly. It’s essentially the same but the user is unable to see the distinction. The client asks for a resource and then receives it without extra configuration required on the part of the client.

Reverse proxies provide features like:

While centralized security is an advantage of both forward and reverse proxy servers. However, reverse proxy providers provide this service only to the layer that is the webserver and not to the client layer. Instead of maintaining firewalls in webserver level, that could include multiple servers with different configurations, the majority protection of firewalls is targeted to the reverse proxy layer. Additionally, removing the responsibility of interfacing with firewalls and responding to requests from clients via web servers allows them to focus solely on the requirements of their clients.

If there are multiple servers operating with a reverse-proxy the reverse proxy is also responsible for the direction that requests are directed to which servers. Multiple web servers could be running on the same server, offering various kinds of resources or a combination of the two. They may use the HTTP protocol just like a conventional web server, but they can also be equipped with application server protocols like FastCGI. You can create reverse proxy servers that redirect users to a particular server based on the service required, or to a set of rules for the traffic load.

Reverse proxies also gain by their position over web servers, as they provide caching capabilities. Large static assets can be configured using caching rules to prevent the need to call web servers each time you request. Certain software solutions let you directly serve static assets without having to communicate with the webserver at all. In addition the reverse proxy is able to handle compression of these assets.

The well-known Nginx web server also functions as a highly regarded reverse proxy solution. Even though Apache is also a reverse proxy solution however, the Apache web server does have reverse proxy capabilities, however, it’s an additional feature that is available to Apache as opposed to Nginx was originally designed to and focuses upon the feature of reverse proxy.

Distinguishing Forward and Reverse Proxy Use

Because “forward” or “reverse” are ascribed to an impression of directionality and inaccurate comparisons to “incoming” in addition to “outgoing” traffic, the labels can be confusing since both types of proxy services handle both requests and replies. The best method to distinguish between forward and reverse proxy is to consider the requirements of the app you’re developing.

Reverse proxy can be useful when you are developing a solution that can deliver web-based apps over the internet. They are your web servers for any interaction you make on the web.

Forward proxy can be helpful when put in front of users for personal use, or in an office setting. They serve as a representation of your client’s activity whenever you interact on the internet.

Separating by use case instead of just focusing on the most the most common naming conventions will ensure that you don’t get confused.

Conclusion

This article provides the definition of a proxy, focusing on the two main kinds, namely forward proxy and reverse proxy. Practical examples of use as well as a review of the beneficial features was used to differentiate forward proxies and reverse proxy. If you’re keen to learn more about the possibilities of proxies, you should read our tutorial on how to configure Nginx as an internet server and reverse proxy within Apache on an Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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