An proxy, also called the software for proxy servers that acts as an intermediary between server and client over the internet. In the absence of proxies, a user could send a request to an online source directly through a server and the server would serve the resource directly back at the requester’s. This is a simple method to understand and implement but the addition of proxies can bring benefits such as improved performance as well as privacy, security and much more. As an additional layer of pass-through, the proxy serves as a guardian for the internet between clients and servers.

Generally speaking, the combination of server hardware with proxy software is often referred too as proxy servers. This article will concentrate on proxies which are generally classified as software when referring to web servers. This article will provide the full description of two kinds: forward proxy and reverse proxy. reverse proxy. Each type has its own usage scenario, and is frequently confused due to the same terms.

This article will provide you with information about the different types of proxy services, what their subtypes, as well as how they function in a variety of configurations. Through this article, you’ll be able identify instances where using proxies can be advantageous, and select the most appropriate solution for reverse or forward proxy in any given scenario.

Understanding Forward Proxies

The forward proxy also referred to the open proxy is a proxy for a client who wants to make an internet-based request to an the server that made it. In this situation, the entire attempt to send requests made by the user will instead be transmitted via the forward proxy. A forward proxy acting in place of the client will check at the request. It will then determine if this user is authorised to transmit requests via this particular forward proxy. Then, it decides to deny any request or to forward it to the server that originated it. The client does not have direct connection directly to internet. It is able to access only the content that forward proxy allows it access to.

A popular use for forward proxies is increased privacy and security when surfing the internet. Forward proxy allows access to the internet in place of a client, and in this way it may make use of an alternative IP address to the original IP address of the client.

Based on the way it has been configured, based on the way it’s configured forward proxy can provide you with different features based on the configuration, which allows you to:

Forward proxies can also be used for security systems that are centralised as well as access that is permission-based for instance, such as at work. If all internet traffic flows through an open forward proxy, the administrator can grant just a handful of users connection to internet filtered through the common firewall. Instead of setting up firewalls on the server layer, which can comprise a variety of devices that operate in different environments and types of users. A firewall may be placed in the intermediate layer of forward proxy.

It is important to remember that forward proxies need to be manually configured to use and reverse proxies may not be noticed by the user. Depending on the type IP address of the user, they are transferred to the origin server via the forward proxy, privacy and anonymity may be granted or not.

There are a variety of alternatives to look into for forward proxy services.

Understanding Reverse Proxies

A reverse proxy functions as an intermediary for a web server that handles the incoming requests of clients on its behalf. Web servers can comprise one or more servers. Additionally, it can be an application-server, such as Gunicorn. In either of these scenarios the request will be made via the web at large. In the majority of cases, the request will be made directly to a web server with the information the user is looking for. A reverse proxy serves as an intermediary and isolates the webserver from direct communications with the open internet.

From the perspective of a user the experience of using reverse proxy is not different than communicating with an internet server direct. It’s basically the same, but the client can’t discern the difference. The client asks for an item and receives it, with no additional configuration required by the client.

Reverse proxies can provide features such as:

While centralized security can be a benefit of both reverse and forward proxy servers. However, reverse proxies offer this feature only to the layer of the webserver, not those who are on the client side. Instead of maintaining firewalls on the web server layer that could include multiple servers and different configurations, the majority in firewall protection is aimed to the reverse proxy layer. Furthermore, the removal of the burden of interacting with a firewall and responding to requests from clients off of web servers enables them to concentrate on the needs of their customers.

If there are multiple servers operating with a reverse-proxy the reverse proxy also handles the direction of which requests are directed towards which servers. There could be multiple web servers operating on the same server, each providing different types of resources or a mix of the two. They can use the HTTP protocol as a traditional web server, but they may also be able to be equipped with application server protocols such as FastCGI. It is possible to set up a reverse proxy that directs visitors to specific server based on the service you request, or to certain rules regarding the amount of traffic.

Reverse proxies also gain by being placed over web servers as they offer caching capabilities. Large static assets can be configured using caching rules to prevent needing to connect with web servers each time you request. Certain solutions allow you to directly serve static files without having to communicate with the webserver for even one time. Additionally the reverse proxy is able to handle compression of these assets.

The renowned Nginx web server is also used as an extremely popular reverse proxy service. Even though Apache is also a reverse proxy service, the Apache web server also comes with reverse proxy functions, but it’s an additional feature that is available to Apache in contrast to Nginx was designed initially to and focuses specifically on reverse proxy features.

Differentiating Forward Proxy and reverse Proxy Use

Since “forward” as well as “reverse” are both associated with the notion of directionality, and inaccurate comparisons to “incoming” and “outgoing” traffic the labels can be confusing since both kinds of proxies handle requests and responses. The best method to distinguish between reverse and forward proxy services is to look at the requirements of the app that you are developing.

A reverse proxy is a useful tool in the development of a solution to deliver web-based apps over the internet. They act as your web server for any interaction you make on the internet.

Forward proxy are helpful when put in front of users either for personal use or in an office setting. They represent the traffic of your client when you use the internet.

The practice of separating by use case rather than just focusing on the most standard naming conventions can help ensure that you aren’t confused.


This article explains the meaning of a proxy with the two major types, which are the reverse proxy and forward proxy. Practical examples of use and an overview of beneficial features was utilized to distinguish forward proxies and reverse proxies. If you’re interested to learn more about the benefits of proxies, then you should read our tutorial on how to configure Nginx as a reverse and web server proxy within Apache on an Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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