A proxy also referred to proxy server software that acts as an intermediary between client and server on the internet. Without a proxy, a user can send a request for the item to an online server, and the server would then deliver the item directly to the user. Although this method is easy to grasp and implement, the addition of proxy servers can bring advantages in terms of improved performance security, privacy, and more. Alongside adding a layer of security, proxies act as a security guardian of the internet between servers and clients.

The general consensus is that the server hardware and proxy software is also frequently called proxy servers. But, this article will be focusing on proxies which are usually classified as software, and in the case of web servers. We will provide a brief overview of the two primary types that are forward proxy and reverse proxy. reverse proxy. Each has its own specific usage, which can be confusing because of a similar naming convention.

This article will provide you with an idea of the nature of proxies and the subtypes of them, as well as how they function in typical setups. In in this post, you’ll be able to identify the scenarios where it’s beneficial to use a proxy, and make the right choice between reverse proxy and forward proxy for any scenario.

Understanding Forward Proxies

In another way a forward proxy, also referred to as or an open proxy serves as the representative of a user who would like to make an internet-based request to an origin server. In this situation, any attempt to send requests from the client is instead routed straight via the forward proxy. The forward proxy, acting in instead of the user will review the request. It will first determine if the client is authorized to accept requests from this specific forward proxy. Then, it decides if it wants to refuse a request or transfer it onto the server that originally received it. The client is not able to directly access the internet. It can only access what the forward proxy permits it access to.

The most common reason to use forward proxies is to gain greater privacy or security on the internet. A forward proxy is able to access the internet place of a client, and, in this way, it may use an alternative IP address to the IP address originally that the client uses.

Depending on how they’ve been set up in the past, forward proxy servers can give you a variety of options. They allow you to:

Forward proxies may also be used in systems that provide central security and authorization based access, like in a workplace. When all traffic on the internet passes through an open forward proxy,, administrators are able to restrict access to specific clients on the internet filtered through an common firewall. Instead of putting firewalls in place for the client layer that could include a variety of machines that have different user and operating environments, the firewall could be put into the forward proxy layer.

Be aware that forward proxy settings must be manually configured for use in order to be used and reverse proxy settings can be not recognized by clients. Depending on whether the IP address of the client is passed to the original server through the forward proxy privacy and anonymity could be granted or not.

There are many possibilities to consider when it comes to forward proxy options:

Understanding Reverse Proxies

A reverse proxy acts as a proxy for web servers, which handles incoming requests from clients in its place. The web server could comprise one or more servers. It could also be a server for applications like Gunicorn. In any of these situations, the request for an application comes through the internet as a whole. In most cases the request will be directed directly to the server that hosts the information that the client wants. A reverse proxy acts as an intermediary, protecting Web servers from direct contact with the internet’s public.

From a consumer’s point of viewpoint, or an individual’s view, connecting using a reverse proxy is identical to working with direct connections to an internet server. It’s exactly the same thing, however the client cannot be able to discern the differences. The client requests a resource and then receives it, without any additional configuration needed on the part of the client.

Reverse proxies offer features like:

While central security is an advantage of both reverse and forward proxy servers, reverse proxies provide this feature to only the server layer and not the client layer. Instead of managing firewalls for Web server layers which can contain a variety of servers and different configurations, the bulk of firewall security can be focused at reverse proxy layers. Furthermore, the elimination of the responsibility of interfacing with firewalls as well as interacting with clients’ requests outside of web servers allows them to concentrate on providing the requirements of their customers.

If there are multiple servers being hosted using a reverse-proxy, the reverse proxy will also be responsible for directing which requests go to which server. There could be multiple web servers that provide 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 standard web server however, they may also use other protocols for application servers such as FastCGI. You can also set up a reverse proxy to redirect clients to specific servers based upon the requested resource or to comply with specific rules pertaining to traffic load.

Reverse proxies may also benefit from their position ahead of web servers, by providing caching capabilities. Massive static resources can be set up by using caching rules in order to avoid the web server from being hit with each request. There are solutions even allowing users to serve static files directly without connecting to a web server even once. Furthermore reverse proxy is able to control compression of these files.

The well-known Nginx web server can also function as an extremely popular reverse proxy service. Although Apache is also a reverse proxy solution however, the Apache web server is also able to function with a reverse proxy functionality, it is an additional characteristic of Apache whereas Nginx was designed initially to and is focused on the reverse proxy feature.

Differentiating Forward Proxy and Reverse Proxy Examples

Since “forward” and “reverse” are associated with directionality, and false comparisons with “incoming” or “outgoing” traffic, the labels can be confusing since both types of proxy handle responses and requests. A better approach to differentiate between reverse and forward proxy is to study the specifications of the application you’re building.

A reverse proxy can be beneficial when creating a solution to provide web-based applications over the internet. They act as your web server whenever you connect to the internet.

Forward proxy can be useful when it is placed in front of clients for personal use, or in an office environment. They are your client’s representative whenever you use the internet.

A case-based distinction instead of focusing on common naming conventions can aid in avoidance of confusion.


The article clarified the meaning of a proxy with the two types that are forward and the reverse proxy. Practical applications as well as a summary of the most beneficial characteristics were employed to identify between reverse and forward proxies. If you’re interested in learning more about how to implement proxies you can check out our tutorial on how to configure Nginx as a reverse and web server proxy using Apache on the Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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