A proxy is also known as a proxy server, is a program acting as an intermediary client and server on the internet. Without the proxy, a user could send a request for resources directly to the server and it would then serve the resource directly towards the customer. While this is a simple method to grasp and implement however, the addition of proxy servers can offer benefits like increased efficiency, privacy, security, and a host of other benefits. As an additional layer of passing through, the proxy acts as a security guardian of the internet between clients and servers.

Generally speaking, the combined system of server hardware and installed proxy software is also often called proxy servers. This article will discuss proxies typically described as software and in the context of web servers. There will be a discussion of the two major kinds of proxies. One being a forward proxy and the reverse. reverse proxy. Each kind of proxy has its own purpose and is often confused due to the resemblance of namesake convention.

This article will provide you with an idea of the different subtypes and proxies in terms of their benefits for setups that are common. If you’ve read the article carefully, you’ll be able to recognize situations where the use of proxies is advantageous, and then choose the best choice between forward proxy and reverse proxy based on the situation.

Understanding Forward Proxies

Forward proxy also known as open proxy. An open proxy acts as the representative of a user who would like to make an internet-based request to an the server that made it. In this situation any attempts to make requests through the client will instead be directed to forward proxy. Forward proxy in lieu of the client, will look into the request. The first step is to find out if the client is authorized to receive requests from this particular forward proxy. It will then reject any request, or redirect it to the server that originated it. The client does not have an internet connection directly It can only access what forward proxy permits it to access.

The most common reason for using forward proxy servers is the increased privacy or anonymity online. Forward proxy connects to the internet as clients and as such it can make use of an IP address different from the original IP address of the client.

Depending on how it’s been configured, forward proxy will provide a variety of functions as well as the ability to:

Forward proxies can also be used in systems that provide central security and access based on permissions, such as at work. When all internet traffic flows through a forward proxy and administrators are capable of allowing only certain clients access to the internet through a single firewall. Instead of having firewalls in place to protect the client layer which could include multiple machines with varying settings and environments and users A firewall could be put in an forward proxy layer.

It is crucial to keep in mind the forward proxy configurations must be manually setup to allow the use of these proxy servers for use and reverse proxy settings are not able to be detected by users. Depending on whether an IP address belonging to the user is passed on to the server that originated it via forward proxy privacy and security may be granted or kept in the dark.

There are many options to think about when it comes to forward proxy options:

Understanding Reverse Proxies

Reverse proxy acts as an intermediary to a web server, and takes care of requests from clients for the web server. Web servers can function as a one server or multiple servers. It could also function as an app server such as Gunicorn. In any case the request for an application comes through the internet in general. Typically, the request will directly go to the server that hosts the content that the client is looking for. Reverse proxy, however, serves as an intermediary to isolate your website server from communication with the internet’s open.

From the perspective of a user’s view, interacting with reverse proxy isn’t different from interacting with your webserver directly. It’s functionally similar, however the client can’t discern the difference. The client requests an item and receives it, without any extra configuration required from the user.

Reverse proxy providers provide features like:

While centralized security can be a benefit of both forward and reverse proxy, reverse proxies do this only for just the Web server layer and not the client layer. Instead of maintaining security firewalls in Web server layers which may comprise multiple servers that have different configurations, the majority protection of the firewall is aimed towards the reverse proxy layer. In addition, taking the burden of interacting with a firewall and interacting with clients’ requests off of web servers allows them to concentrate on providing resources.

If there are more than one servers that have a reverse proxy, the reverse proxy will be also accountable for deciding which requests are directed to which server. There may be several web servers that are running on the same server, all serving different types of resources or a mixture of both. They could be using the HTTP protocol similar to a conventional web server. They can also include protocols for application servers like FastCGI. You can also set up a reverse proxy to route clients to specific servers in accordance with the service being requested or to adhere to certain guidelines regarding traffic load.

Reverse proxies can also take advantage of their placement on top of web servers by making use of caching. Large static assets can be configured with caching rules in order to avoid hitting web servers with every request. Some solutions even allowing users to upload static files in a direct manner without linking to the web server in any way. Furthermore, the reverse proxy can handle the compression of these assets.

The well-known Nginx web server is an extremely popular reverse proxy option. However, it’s not a reverse proxy, the Apache web server comes with a reverse proxy option as an additional function that is available for Apache while Nginx was originally designed to and is focused on the reverse proxy feature.

Distinguishing Forward Proxy from Reverse Proxy Use Cases

Since “forward” in addition to “reverse” are both associated with an impression of directionality, as well as inaccurate comparisons to “incoming” in addition to “outgoing” traffic These labels can be confusing as both types of proxies can be used to manage requests and responses. A different method of distinguishing between reverse and forward proxy servers is to study the requirements of the application that you’re creating.

Reverse proxy is an effective tool to use when designing a solution to host websites on the internet. They represent your web servers during any interaction through the Internet.

A forward proxy is useful to use if you’re working with clients in front to use for personal purposes or in a work environment. They represent your client traffic when you are on the internet.

A distinction that is based on the use cases instead of focusing on the common names can help in avoidance of confusion.

Conclusion

The article explained what a proxy is and the two kinds of proxy being the forward proxy and reverse proxy. Practical examples of its use as well as a discussion of most effective features were utilized to differentiate forward proxies from reverse. If you’re interested in learning how to implement proxies we suggest that you read our guide on how to set up Nginx as an reverse proxy and internet server using Apache using and Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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