The term “proxy” means a proxy often called proxy server software that serves in the role of intermediary between server and a client on the internet. Without proxy, a user could send a request to the server directly and the server would serve the requested resource directly to the user. While this approach is straightforward to understand and use, proxies can provide advantages such as more performance, privacy and security, and so on. As a pass-through layer the proxy functions as a guardian to the internet between users and servers.

In general, the combination of server hardware that is paired with the software used to install proxy is usually called proxy servers. This article will concentrate on proxy servers that are usually described as software and specifically, in relation with web server. This article will give a synopsis of the two primary types of proxies, which is the reverse proxy as well as a forward proxy and reverse proxy. reverse proxy. Each type comes with its own usage scenario, which is often misinterpreted due the common terms.

This article will give you an understanding of nature of proxies, as well as their subtypes and ways that they can prove useful in a range of configurations. If you read this article, you’ll learn to identify situations where the use of proxies is beneficial and identify the most appropriate option between forward proxy and reverse proxy for a particular scenario.

Understanding Forward Proxies

The forward proxy also known in the context of an open proxy serves as the representative of the client who is trying to relay an internet request to a server that is the source. In this situation, any attempt to send requests by the user will instead be sent via forward proxy. Forward proxy in place of the client will review the request. It will then determine whether or not the client is able to send requests via this particular forward proxy. Then, it will orally reject a request and forward it to the server that originated the request. The client is unable to connect directly to internet. It can only reach what the forward proxy allows it to connect to.

The most common reason for using forward proxy services is to increase privacy or security when using the internet. Forward proxy allows you to access the internet instead of the client. In this way, it utilizes an alternative IP address to the IP address used by the client.

Based on the way it’s configured, and how it is configured forward proxy can offer a range of functions and allow you to:

Forward proxies are also used for security systems that are centralized and access is based on permissions, such as at work. If all internet traffic flows through an open forward proxy layer, an administrator could limit access for only a select group of internet users and be filtered by a common firewall. Instead of creating firewalls for the client layer, which can be used by a number of computers that have different settings and types of users, you can set up a firewall located at the layer that forwards proxy traffic.

Take note of the fact that forward proxies must be manually configured for use before they can be utilized, whereas reverse proxies are able to be obfuscated by clients. Based on the fact that an IP address belonging to a user is relayed back to the server that originated it through the forward proxy, privacy and anonymity may be granted or denied.

There are numerous options to consider for forward proxies.

Understanding Reverse Proxies

Reverse proxy serves to act as a proxy for server on the internet, which handles requests from customers on its behalf. It could represent either a single or multiple servers. Additionally, it could be an application server, such as Gunicorn. In either scenario the request will be made through the internet generally. The request is typically sent directly to the server which hosts the resources the user is in need of. A reverse proxy acts as an intermediary, and separates the web server from direct contact with the public internet.

From the viewpoint from the client’s point of view the process of utilizing reverse proxy is the same than working with the server in its own way. It’s the exact same thing, however the client can’t discern the distinction. Client makes a request for the resource and then receives it, with no extra configuration needed by the client.

Reverse proxies provide features like:

While central security is an advantage of both reverse and forward proxy servers. Reverse proxies offer this feature to only the server layer but it is not available to the client layer. Instead of focusing on the maintenance of firewalls on the server level that could include several servers, each with different configurations, the majority of security for firewalls is concentrated at the reverse proxy level. Furthermore, taking the burden of working with firewalls and connecting to client requests off web servers allows firewalls to focus on meeting the needs of their customers.

When there is a multitude of servers located within a reverse proxy the reverse proxy is responsible for how requests are routed through which server. There could be multiple web servers providing the exact same service, offering different kinds of resources, or a combination of the two. They may employ their HTTP protocol to serve as a web server in the traditional sense, however, they may also incorporate protocols for application servers like FastCGI. It is also possible to set up reverse proxy servers to redirect users to specific servers depending on the resource requested, or to adhere to certain guidelines for traffic load.

Reverse proxies can also benefit by their positioning before web servers by offering caching capabilities. Large static assets may be configured using caching rules to avoid hitting web servers on every request. There are options that allow you to directly serve static assets without connecting to the web server in any way. In addition, the reverse proxy is able to compress these assets.

The renowned Nginx web server also functions as a reliable reverse proxy service. While Apache has a reverse proxy service it is not the only one. Apache web server is outfitted with reverse proxy functionality which is an additional option that is accessible to Apache However, Nginx was originally designed specifically for reverse proxy capabilities.

The difference in Forward Proxy and Reverse Proxy Use Situations

Since “forward” and “reverse” have connotations of directionality and misleading distinctions between “incoming” or “outgoing” traffic The labels can be confusing as both types of proxies deal with requests and responses. An alternative method to distinguish between forward and reverse proxy is to look at the specifications of the application you’re creating.

Reverse proxy can be useful when you are developing a solution to deliver web-based applications to the internet. They are your web servers when you use the internet.

Forward proxy can be beneficial when they are used in front of customers to use for personal purposes or in a professional setting. They act as your client’s proxy when you are on the internet.

Distinguishing by use case instead of focusing solely on naming conventions that are commonplace can help you avoid confusion.


This article explains what a proxy is with two types: the forward proxy and the reverse proxy. Practical examples of its use as well as a look at the useful features were used to differentiate forward proxies from reverse proxies. If you’re looking to know more about proxy servers, read our guide on how you can configure Nginx as a reverse proxy by using Apache on one Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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