The term “proxy” refers to a proxy is also known as a proxy server. It is software which acts as an intermediary for a client and server via the internet. Without proxy servers, a user will send a request to resources directly to a server, and it would serve the resource directly for the client. Although this method is easy to understand and implement, however, the addition of proxy servers could bring benefits such as increased speed, privacy, security, and many more. In addition to providing pass-through, the proxy serves as a guardian for the internet between clients and servers.

The combined system of server hardware coupled with installed proxy software is also commonly called a proxy server. This article will discuss proxies typically considered to be software, as well as in relation to web servers. There will be a discussion of two kinds of proxies. One being a forward proxy and reverse proxy. reverse proxy. Each kind has its own specific application and can be confusing due to the similar namesake convention.

This article will give you an understanding of types of proxies and subtypes in terms of their benefits for setups that are common. If you read this article, you’ll be able understand the situations when using proxies can be beneficial, and you can then select the most appropriate option between forward proxy and reverse proxy depending on the circumstance.

Understanding Forward Proxies

Forward proxy, also referred to in the context of the open proxy acts as the representative of a customer who wants to make an internet-based request to an the server which originated it. In this case every attempt to send requests made by the client will instead be sent to the forward proxy. Forward proxy in place of the client, will examine the request. It will first verify if the client is authorized to receive requests from this particular forward proxy. It will then deny any request, or send it to its origin server. The client doesn’t have a direct connection to the internet It can only access what forward proxy permits it to access.

The most common reason to use forward proxies is the increased privacy or anonymity on the internet. Forward proxy connects to the internet as clients, and, in this manner it can utilize an IP address different from the IP address of the user.

Depending on the way it’s configured the forward proxy will give you a range of options as well as the ability to:

Forward proxies can also be employed in systems that offer centralized security as well as permission-based access, like in workplaces. When all internet traffic flows through a common forward proxy, an administrator is in a position to grant only specific clients access to the internet using a common firewall. Instead of having firewalls in place for the client layer, which may include multiple computers that have different settings and environments and users, a firewall can be installed in an forward proxy layer.

It is important to remember the forward proxy configurations must be manually setup to allow the forward proxy to function in order to be used, while reverse proxy servers are unable to be noticed by the user. Based on the IP address of a user is passed on to the server from which it originated via the forward proxy, the privacy and security settings, it can be granted or not.

There are many options to consider for forward proxy alternatives:

Understanding Reverse Proxies

Reverse proxy acts as an intermediary for web servers, and handles requests from clients on behalf of. The web server may serve as a single server, or multiple servers. Additionally, it can be an application server such as Gunicorn. In any case the request for an application comes by a user on the internet. Most of the time, the request will be sent directly to the web server which hosts the information that the user is looking for. The reverse proxy acts as a middleman to protect your web server from contact via the web’s public.

From the perspective of a user’s the consumer’s perspective, working with reverse proxy doesn’t differ from interacting with Web server in direct contact. It is functionally the same but the client cannot tell the distinction. Client requests an item and is given it, without requiring any additional configuration for the end user.

Reverse proxy providers provide features like:

While centralized security is a benefit of both reverse and forward proxy, reverse proxies provide this function only for the web server layer, but not the client layer. instead of maintaining firewalls for Web server layers which may contain multiple servers with various configurations, the majority in firewall protection is aimed to the reverse proxy layer. In addition, taking the burden of interacting with firewalls and interfacing with requests from clients off of web servers enables them to focus on serving resources.

If there are more than one servers with a reverse-proxy, the reverse proxy is also accountable for deciding which requests go at the server. There could be multiple web servers running on the same server, each offering different kinds of resources or a mix of the two. These servers could use the HTTP protocol similar to a conventional web server. They can also include application server protocols like FastCGI. You can also set up reverse proxy servers to direct clients to specific servers in accordance with the service they require, or to observe certain traffic load rules.

Reverse proxies are also able to make use of their location on top of web servers by making use of caching. The large static files can be configured using caching rules to prevent the web server from being hit with each request, with some options even allowing you to provide static files directly without connecting directly to the website server. Furthermore, the reverse proxy is able to handle the compression of these assets.

The popular Nginx webserver is a well-known reverse proxy service. Although it’s not a reverse proxy, the Apache web server also comes with a reverse proxy option as an added feature that is available to Apache whereas Nginx was originally designed to and specifically focused on reverse proxy functions.

Distinguishing Forward Proxy from Reverse Proxy Use Cases

Because “forward” along with “reverse” are associated with an impression of directionality, and also inaccurate comparisons to “incoming” as well as “outgoing” traffic, these labels can be confusing as both types of proxies can handle requests as well as responses. Another method of separating between forward and reverse proxy servers is to analyze the needs of the application you’re creating.

Reverse proxy is a useful tool to use when developing a solution to serve websites on the internet. They are your web servers during any interaction through the Internet.

A forward proxy is useful to use when you are working with clients in front to use for personal purposes or even in a business 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 getting rid of confusion.

Conclusion

The article clarified what a proxy was as well as two types of them: the reverse proxy and forward proxy. Examples of how to use them and a discussion of most effective features were utilized to distinguish forward proxies and reverse proxies. If you’d like to explore how to implement proxies we suggest that you read our guide on how to configure Nginx as an internet server and reverse proxy using Apache using the Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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