An proxy is also known as proxy server software that acts as a mediator between a client and a server on the internet. Without the use of proxy servers, users can send a request for an item directly to a server and the server will deliver the item directly to the user. While this is a simple method to grasp and implement, the addition of proxies could provide advantages in terms of enhanced performance and privacy, security and much more. Apart from adding a layer of security they also serve as a security safeguard for the internet between clients and servers.

The general consensus is that the set of server hardware along with installed proxy software are also referred to proxy servers. This article will focus on proxies which are usually classified as software and within the context of web servers. We will present a summary of the two primary types, namely which are a forward proxy and a reverse proxy. Each has its own specific usage that can cause confusion because of a similar name convention.

This article will give you an idea of what proxies are and what subtypes they are, as well as how they function in typical setups. Through the article you’ll discover how to recognize the circumstances in which it is beneficial to use a proxy and decide on the appropriate choice between forward and reverse proxy, in any situation.

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Understanding Forward Proxies

In another way, a forward proxy sometimes called or an open proxy is a proxy of a client who wants to make an internet-based request to an the server that originated it. In this case, every request made by the client’s side will be directed directly through the forward proxy. Forward proxy acting on the place of the client will examine the request. The first step is to determine if the user is authorized accept requests from this specific forward proxy. It will then decide if it is authorized to deny a request and send it back to the original server. The client is not able to have direct access to the internet. It only has access to what the forward proxy permits the client access.

The primary reason for people to use forward proxies is to improve privacy or security on the internet. Forward proxy allows you to access the internet in the place of a client and, in this way it could use a different IP address than the original IP address utilized by the client.

Based on the way it was previously configured forward proxy servers are able to give you a variety of options. They allow you to:

Forward proxies may also be employed in systems that offer centralized security and permission based access, such as in a workplace. When all internet traffic passes through an open forward proxy, administrators can restrict access to only certain clients to the internet filtered through an common firewall. Instead of having firewalls for the client layer that may comprise a range of devices that are different in environments and users, the firewall could be placed into the forward proxy layer.

It is important to note that settings for forward proxy have to be manually configured for use to function in reverse proxies, whereas forward proxy settings can be disregarded by clients. Depending on the type of IP address of a user is passed to the original server via the forward proxy, privacy and anonymity can be granted or not.

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

Understanding Reverse Proxies

A reverse proxy serves as a proxy for web servers that handle the incoming requests of clients on its behalf. The web server may include one server or several servers. It could also be used as an application server such as Gunicorn. In either of these scenarios an application request is made through the internet in general. Most of the time, the request will be sent directly to the web server along with the data the user is seeking. Reverse proxy, however, works as an intermediary, shielding Web server from any direct interaction with the internet’s public.

From a consumer’s point of perspective, which is also a user’s viewpoint, interfacing with a reverse proxy is no any different from working with an internet server direct. It’s exactly the same however the user is unable to discern the difference. The client asks for a resource and then receives it, without any additional configuration required on the part of the client.

Reverse proxies offer features like:

While central security is a benefit of both forward and reverse proxy servers, reverse proxies offer this feature only to the server layer, it is not available to the client layer. Instead of managing firewalls on servers on the internet,, which may contain many servers with different configurations, the bulk of firewall security can be targeted at the reverse proxy layer. Additionally, removing the responsibility of interfacing with firewalls as well as dealing with requests from clients without the need for web servers enables them to concentrate on serving the needs of their customers.

If there are multiple servers hosted with a reverse-proxy the reverse proxy is responsible for directing which requests go at the server. There may be several web servers offering the same content, or offering different kinds of content or a mixture of both. These servers can be using the HTTP protocol in the same way as a traditional web server, however, they may also use other protocols for application servers such as FastCGI. It is also possible to set up reverse proxy to redirect clients to specific servers based upon the resource requested or to comply with specific rules pertaining to traffic load.

Reverse proxies can also benefit from their position before web servers by delivering the ability to cache. Large static assets can be set up using caching rules to prevent the web server from being hit with each request. There are even solutions that allow the server to serve static assets directly without connecting to the web server once. Additionally, the reverse proxy can control compression of these files.

The popular Nginx web server is also used as a very popular reverse proxy solution. Even though Apache has a reverse proxy option but Apache is a reverse proxy service. Apache web server also comes with a reverse proxy functionality, it is an additional feature of Apache whereas Nginx was designed initially to focus on its reverse proxy feature.

Differentiating Forward Proxy and reverse Proxy Use Examples

Since “forward” and “reverse” have a connotation of directionality, and false comparisons with “incoming” and “outgoing” traffic the labels could be confusing since both types of proxy handle responses and requests. The best way to distinguish between forward and reverse proxy is to look at the requirements of the application that you are building.

A reverse proxy could be helpful when building an application that runs web-based applications over the internet. They act as your web server for when you use the web.

Forward proxy can be useful when it is placed before clients for personal use or within a corporate environment. They represent your customers when you interact with the internet.

The use of case-based differentiation instead of focusing solely on standard naming conventions could help in avoiding confusion.

Conclusion

The article clarified the meaning of a proxy, which includes two kinds of proxy: the forward one and reverse proxy. Practical applications as well as a summary of the beneficial features were utilized to differentiate between forward and reverse proxies. If you’re interested to learn more about the process of implementing proxies you can check out our guide on how to set up Nginx as a web server and reverse proxy with Apache using Ubuntu 20.04. Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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