proxy is also referred to as a proxy is commonly referred to for its role as a proxy server, a software that sits as a mediator between client and server via the internet. Without the use of proxy servers, users can send a request for a source directly through the server, and then the server would give the requested resource directly to the user. While this is a simple method to understand and use, but the addition of proxy servers may provide benefits in terms of better performance, privacy and security, and much more. Apart from providing a layer of security, a proxy acts as a security guard for the internet between users and servers.

In general, the bundle of server hardware with an installed software proxy is also commonly referred to as proxy servers. In this article, we will focus on proxies traditionally classified as software, and also in the context of web servers. The article will give a detailed breakdown of the two primary types of proxies: that is the forward proxy and a reverse proxy. Each has its own usage scenario, which is often confused due to the overlap in name convention.

This article will give you an understanding of what proxies and their subtypes are and the ways they can be useful in a range of configurations. Through this guide, you’ll be able to discern the scenarios where a proxy is beneficial, and decide on the appropriate alternative between forward and reverse proxy for any particular scenario.

Understanding Forward Proxies

A forward proxy also referred to by the name of open proxy. An open proxy acts as an agent for an individual trying to make a request via the internet to a source server. In this scenario every attempt to send requests made by the client will instead be sent through the forward proxy. This forward proxy in place of the client will review the request. It first decides if the client has been granted permission to receive requests from this particular forward proxy. Then, it will either refuse requests or redirect them to the source server. It’s not able directly connect to the internet. It only has access to what forward proxy allows the forward proxy to connect.

A typical use of forward proxy is to provide more privacy or security while online. The forward proxy is connected to web as a user, and through this process, it uses an alternate IP address for the client’s IP address.

Depending on how it’s been configured in accordance with the configuration, forward proxy may offer a range of features, allowing users to:

Forward proxies are also employed in systems to give central security and access through permissions, for instance at work. Internet traffic can be routed via an open forward proxy. administrators can grant access only to a specific group of individuals to access the web, and this is then filtered by the standard firewall. Instead of having firewalls at this layer of client, this can be used by multiple computers with different environments and types of users A firewall can be found at this forward proxy layer.

Take note that forward proxies have to be manually setup for their use, however reverse proxy servers will not be noticed by the user. Depending on whether your IP address a user is transmitted to the original server via forward proxy, privacy and anonymity could be granted or kept secret.

There are many alternatives to think about in the case of forward proxies.

Understanding Reverse Proxies

Reverse proxy acts as an intermediary to a web server that handles any requests that come in from clients its place. The server could function as a single server or as a set of servers. Furthermore, it could comprise an application server, like Gunicorn. It is possible to receive a request from a customer via the web at large. In most cases the request will be made directly to the website server hosting the data the client is asking for. Instead, a reverse proxy serves as an intermediary to isolate your website server from communicating with the internet’s public.

From a consumer’s point view that is an individual’s view, interacting with reverse proxy isn’t different from connecting to the server in its own. It’s basically the same as the web server, and the client cannot tell the distinction. Clients can request the resource and receive it, without any additional configuration needed by the user.

Reverse proxies grant features like:

While central security is a benefit of both forward and reverse proxy services, reverse-proxies provide this service to only the layer of web servers, but not to the client layer. instead of having firewalls installed on the layer of web servers that may comprise multiple servers with different configurations, the bulk of firewall security is located on the reverse proxy layer. Additionally, getting rid of the necessity of interfacing with firewalls and interacting with requests from clients who do not have web servers lets them concentrate on providing the needs of their customers.

In the case of multiple servers hosting through a reverse proxy, the reverse proxy also determines which requests are routed towards which servers. Multiple web servers could be providing the exact same service, but having different resources, or perhaps a mix of both. They can use the HTTP protocol similarly to a traditional web server but can be equipped with protocols for application servers like FastCGI. You can set up reverse proxy servers to redirect users to specific servers based on the requested resource or to follow specific rules regarding traffic load.

Reverse proxy solutions can also benefit from their positioning on the web servers with caching functionality. Large static assets can be configured using caching rules to ensure that web servers are not hit every time you request. Some applications allow the server to serve static files directly, without needing to connect to the web server in any way. Additionally, the reverse proxy can be used to compress these assets.

The well-known Nginx web server also functions as a well-known reverse proxy service. Although it is real that Apache web server does have reverse proxy feature, it’s a different option. Apache as opposed to Nginx was initially designed focus on the reverse proxy feature.

Differentiating Forward Proxy from reverse Proxy Use Situations

Because “forward” as well as “reverse” are both associated with the perception of directionality, and false comparisons to “incoming” and “outgoing” traffic. The labels can confuse because both kinds of proxies handle the flow of requests as well as responses. An alternative approach to distinguish between forward and reverse proxy services is to take into account the needs of the application you’re developing.

Reverse proxy is an important aspect when developing a solution to deliver web applications to the internet. They act as your web server in any interaction with the internet.

Forward proxy applications are advantageous when placed in front of clients for personal use, or in a work setting. They can be used to represent the client’s activity when you interact with the internet.

A case-based approach to differentiation rather than focusing exclusively on naming conventions that are commonplace can ensure that you don’t be confused.

Conclusion

The article outlined what is a “proxy” is, with the two primary kinds of them being forward and reverse proxy. Practical applications and a discussion of beneficial features were used to distinguish forward proxies as well as reverse proxy. If you’re considering how to use proxies, check out our guide on how to configure Nginx as web server and reverse proxy to Apache on an Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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