A proxy also referred to an application called a proxy server that acts as an intermediary between a client and server on the internet. Without the need for a proxy, a user could send a request to servers directly, and servers would serve requests directly for the resource requested by the client. Although this may be a straightforward procedure to comprehend and use, proxy servers can result in benefits like enhanced performance, privacy, security, and more. As an additional layer of pass-through, proxies are a way to secure the internet between clients and servers.

In general, the integrated combination of server hardware and the software for proxy installation is typically called proxy servers. This article will focus on proxy servers which are usually regarded as software, as well as when referring to web servers. The article will provide details of the two types that are forward proxy and the reverse proxy. Each type has a distinct application, and is frequently confused due to the identical namesake convention.

This article will give you an understanding of different types of proxy services and what their subtypes, as well as how they are beneficial for the common setups. If you’ve read in this post, you’ll understand the situations when it’s advantageous to use proxy services and make the right choice between reverse proxy and forward proxy in any circumstance.

Understanding Forward Proxies

The forward proxy, also known as the open proxy is the agent of the client, in making an internet request to an the server which made it. In this case the attempts to make requests by the user will instead be routed directly to the forward proxy. In this situation the forward proxy acting instead of the client will scrutinize the request. It will first determine whether the client can send requests through this particular forward proxy. It will then either refuse requests or redirect them to the server that originally made the request. The client is not able to have direct access to the internet. It can access only what the forward proxy permits it to connect to.

The primary reason for people to use forward proxies is to increase privacy or security on the internet. Forward proxy makes use of the internet instead of an individual client, and during this manner it could use an alternative IP address to the original IP address of the client.

Based on the way it’s configured, a forward proxy can offer a variety of features and let you:

Forward proxies can also be used in systems that provide centralized security and access based on permissions, for instance at work. If all traffic on the internet flows through an open front proxy, the administrator can grant only a few clients online access using an common firewall. Instead of establishing firewalls on the client layer, that could include a variety of machines that have different settings and users you can set up an firewall installed on the front proxy layer.

Note that forward proxies must be manually set up in order to permit them to be used while reverse proxies may be omitted by clients. Based on the type of IP address of a client is sent to the source server through the forward proxy, privacy and security may be granted or not.

There are many possibilities to think about when it comes to forward proxies:

Understanding Reverse Proxies

Reverse proxy is a representative of a web server, handling incoming requests from clients on behalf. This web server may include one server or several servers. Furthermore, it could be used as an app server, like Gunicorn. In all of these scenarios the request will be made by a user through the internet at large. In the majority of cases, this request is sent directly to the web server hosting the information that the client wants. A reverse proxy acts as an intermediary to shield Web servers from direct communication with the internet’s public.

From a consumer’s point view from a client’s perspective the use of a reverse proxy is no the same as working with a web servers in direct contact. It’s basically the same, but clients aren’t able distinguish between the two. Client makes request for the resource and it gets it without any extra configuration required from the user.

Reverse proxies provide features like:

While central security is a benefit of both reverse and forward proxy servers, reverse proxy servers provide this feature to that layer of the webserver and not the client layer. instead of maintaining firewalls at the server level, which could include multiple servers that have different configurations, the bulk of firewall security is concentrated upon the reverse proxy. Additionally, removing the responsibility of interacting with firewalls and interfacing with requests from clients off of web servers allows firewalls to focus on providing resources.

If there are multiple servers that are connected to a reverse proxy, the reverse proxy is responsible for directing which requests go at the server. There may be multiple web servers providing the same content, offering various kinds of services, or a mix of both. These servers can be using the HTTP protocol in the same way as an ordinary web server. However, they can also be able to use protocol for application servers like FastCGI. It is possible to set up reverse proxy servers to route visitors to a particular server based on the service they require or to follow specific rules regarding traffic load.

Reverse proxies also benefit from their positioning ahead of web servers, by offering the ability to cache data. The large static files can be set up with caching rules in order to avoid needing to connect with web servers on every request. There are some solutions even allowing users to serve static content directly without touching the web server for even one time. In addition the reverse proxy can deal with compression of these assets.

The popular Nginx web server can also function as a powerful reverse proxy service. However, Apache can also be a reverse proxy option, the Apache web server is also outfitted with a reverse proxy feature as an additional option for Apache in contrast to Nginx was originally designed to and is focused on reverse proxy functions.

Differentiating Forward Proxy from Reverse Proxy Use Situations

Because “forward” as well as “reverse” come with connotations of directionality, as well as false comparisons to “incoming” and “outgoing” traffic, these labels can be confusing since both types of proxies manage the process of responding to requests. The best method to differentiate between reverse and forward proxies is to examine the needs of the app you’re creating.

Reverse proxy is a useful tool to use when developing a solution to serve web-based applications via the internet. They act as your web servers when you connect to the web.

A forward proxy can be helpful when placed in front of clients for your personal use as well as in an official context. They are a representation of your client’s traffic for any interaction on the internet.

Separating by use case instead of using the same naming conventions will assist you in avoiding confusion.

Conclusion

This article explains the meaning of a proxy, with two types being the forward proxy as well as the reverse. Practical application scenarios as well as an examination of the beneficial attributes were used to identify forward proxies as well as reverse proxies. If you’re interested in learning more about the implementation of proxies then you should follow our tutorial on how to set up Nginx as an internet server and reverse proxy for Apache in the Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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