proxy, also known as a proxy is also known for its role as a proxy server a software that sits as a mediator between a client and server on the internet. Without the use of proxy servers, users would make a request any resource directly to the server, and then the server would provide direct access to that resource. While this is a simple method to understand and use, but the addition of proxy servers could provide advantages in terms of more performance, privacy and security, and much more. Apart from adding a layer of protection the proxy also acts as a gatekeeper for the internet between users and servers.

The combined package of server hardware along with an installed software proxy is also often referred as proxy servers. This article we’ll focus on proxies traditionally classified as software, and in connection with web server. The article will give a detailed breakdown of the two primary types of proxies. These are an forward proxy and a reverse proxy. Each has its own usage situation, and is frequently not understood due to the common name convention.

This article will provide you with an understanding of what proxies and subtypes are as well as the ways they can be useful in a range of configurations. In this article, you’ll learn to identify situations in which it is beneficial to use a proxy and decide on the appropriate alternative between forward and reverse proxy depending on the scenario.

Understanding Forward Proxies

An forward proxy sometimes known in the form of the open proxy is a proxy for a user who is 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 handled by the forward proxy. Forward proxy acting in the place of the client is able to examine the request. It will first determine if the client is authorized to accept requests from this particular forward proxy. Then, it will either refuse requests or redirect it to the server that originated it. It’s not able direct connection to the internet. It is only able to access the information the forward proxy enables it to access.

A common use for forward proxy is the requirement for more privacy or security while using the internet. A forward proxy can connect to Internet as a “client” and in this way, it assigns an alternative IP address in addition to the client’s IP address.

Based on the way it has been configured according to the method it was set up, a forward proxy could provide a variety of functions that allow you to:

Forward proxies can also be used in systems to give central security and access via permissions, like in a workplace. All internet traffic can pass via an open forward proxy. administrators can restrict access for specific users to the internet. This is then filtered by the standard firewall. Instead of having firewalls at the client layer, which could be used by several computer systems with different environments and types of users, a firewall could be placed within this forward proxy layer.

Be aware that forward proxy servers have to be manually setup in order to allow them to be used however reverse proxies won’t be detected by the user. Based on the fact that an IP address from a user is sent to the origin server by forward proxy, privacy and anonymity may be granted or hidden.

There are numerous alternatives to think about when considering forward proxy services.

Understanding Reverse Proxies

Reverse proxy acts as an intermediary for a web server, handling any requests that come in from clients its place. This server can serve as a single server or as a set of servers. It could also include an application servers, like Gunicorn. In any case it is possible to receive an inquiry from a client through the internet at large. Most of the time, the request would be directed directly to the web server hosting the data the client is asking for. A reverse proxy works as an intermediary that blocks your website server from communicating with the internet’s users.

From the point of perspective, which is also from a user’s perspective, interacting with reverse proxy isn’t different from connecting to the server in its own. It’s functionally identical to the web server, and the user is unable discern the difference. The client can make a request for the resource and it is then provided with it, without any extra configuration required by the user.

Reverse proxies grant features like:

Although centralized security is an advantage of both forward and reverse proxy, reverse proxies provide this service to servers on the internet but not to the layer of clients. instead of maintaining firewalls at the web servers which might include multiple servers that have different configurations, most of firewall security is concentrated at the layer of reverse proxy. Additionally, getting rid of the necessity of interfacing with firewalls and interacting with requests from clients that do not use web servers allows them to focus on meeting the requirements of their clients.

If there are multiple servers being hosted through a reverse proxy the reverse proxy is responsible for directing which requests are routed on which server. Multiple servers may be offering the same service, but each having different resources, or a combination of the two. They may use the HTTP protocol similarly to a traditional web server however, they could also be equipped with protocols for application servers like FastCGI. It is possible to set up reverse proxy that directs users to specific servers based on the resource requested, or to observe certain guidelines for traffic load.

Reverse proxy solutions can benefit from placing them on the web servers with caching functionality. Large static assets can be configured by caching rules to ensure that web servers are not hit with every request. Certain solutions allow users to serve static content directly without having to connect to a web server at all. Furthermore, the reverse proxy is able to compress these files.

The popular Nginx web server is also used as a well-known reverse proxy service. It is true that the Apache web server comes with reverse proxy function, it’s an additional option for Apache in contrast to Nginx was originally designed to focus on reverse proxy capabilities.

Distinguishing Forward Proxy from Reverse Proxy Use – Situations

Since “forward” as well as “reverse” are associated with the perception of directionality, and misleading comparisons to “incoming” and “outgoing” traffic. The terms can be confusing since both types of proxies manage requests and responses. The best way to differentiate between reverse and forward proxy is to think about the requirements of the application you’re creating.

Reverse proxy is a crucial element when designing an application that can deliver web-based applications on the internet. They act as your web server in any interaction with the internet.

Forward proxy software is beneficial when it is placed in front of clients for personal use, or even in a working environment. They are a representation of your client’s traffic when you use the internet.

The use case-based differentiation instead of focusing solely on naming conventions that are commonplace will help you not get confused.

Conclusion

This article clarified what an “proxy” is and the two main kinds of them being reverse and forward proxy. Practical applications and a discussion of beneficial features were used to distinguish forward proxies as well as reverse proxy. If you’re interested exploring how to set up proxies, follow our tutorial on how to configure Nginx as web server and reverse proxy to Apache on Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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