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The term “proxy” refers to a proxy is also known as an application called a proxy, serves in the role of an intermediary server and client on the internet. Without the proxy, a customer could make a request the source directly through a server and the server would then serve the requested resource directly back to the user. This is a simple method to understand and implement but adding proxies offers benefits such as improved performance as well as privacy, security and many more. As an additional pass-through layer the proxy functions as a guardian for the internet between servers and clients.

Generally speaking, the mix of hardware for servers and proxy software is often referred too as proxy servers. This article will focus on proxies which are generally defined as software, and specifically in relation to web servers. This article will give an in-depth breakdown of two types: the forward proxy and reverse proxy. reverse proxy. Each kind has its own unique usage scenario, and is frequently not understood due to the similar terms.

This article will provide you with information about the different types of proxy services, what their subtypes are and the way they work in various configurations. By reading this article, you will be able identify situations in which the use of proxies is advantageous and pick the best option between reverse and forward proxy in any given scenario.

Understanding Forward Proxies

The forward proxy, sometimes referred to as the open proxy acts as a representative for a user who wishes to send a request via the internet to an the server which originated it. In this case, the entire process of sending requests from the user is instead transmitted through the forward proxy. A forward proxy acting instead of the client will check at the request. It will then determine if this client is authorized to send requests via this particular forward proxy. It will then decide whether to reject any request, or send it to the source server. The client has no direct connection to the internet. It can access only what forward proxy permits it access to.

One of the most popular uses for forward proxy is to provide greater privacy or security while using the internet. Forward proxy allows access to the internet in place of a client, and by doing this it can use an IP address that is different from the original IP address of the client.

Depending on how it’s been configured depending on how it is configured, forward proxy may provide you with different features based on the configuration and enables you to:

  • Do not be a victim of ad tracking.

  • Circumvent surveillance.

  • Recognize restrictions based on geographical location.

Forward proxies are also utilized for security systems that are centralised as well as access that is permission-based in workplaces. If all traffic on the internet passes through an open forward proxy, an administrator is able to grant just a handful of users access to the internet filtered by the standard firewall. Instead of creating firewalls on the server layer, which could comprise a range of devices that operate in diverse environments and users A firewall can be positioned at the intermediate layer of forward proxy.

It is important to remember that forward proxies need to be manually setup in order to be used and reverse proxies may be hidden from the user. Depending on the type of the IP address that a user is transferred to the server from which it originated via the forward proxy, privacy and anonymity could be granted or denied.

There are numerous alternatives to look into for forward proxy services.

  • Apache A well-known open source web server, which offers forward proxy functions.

  • Nginx: Another popular open-source web server that has capability to use forward proxy.

  • Squid: A no-cost forward proxy that uses an HTTP protocol. This doesn’t offer the entire web server. Read our article on how to build a Squid proxy to connect privately in Ubuntu 20.04.

  • Dante is a forward proxy that makes use of the SOCKS protocol instead of HTTP and HTTP, which makes it better for use instances such as peer-to -peer traffic. You can also learn how to configure Dante proxy to allow private connections on Ubuntu 20.04

Understanding Reverse Proxies

A reverse proxy is an intermediary for a web server, which handles any requests that come in from clients on behalf of. The web server could comprise servers, or even multiple servers. Additionally, it can be an application-server, such as Gunicorn. In either of these scenarios the request will originate from the web in general. Most of the time, your request is made directly to the webserver with the information the user is looking for. A reverse proxy serves as an intermediary, isolating the webserver from direct interaction via the open internet.

From the viewpoint of a user, the experience of using reverse proxy is not different than communicating with an internet server direct. It’s essentially the same but the user is unable to be able to discern the difference. The client requests an item and receives it, without any additional configuration required by the client.

Reverse proxies can provide features such as:

  • Centralized security for web servers.

  • The direction of traffic coming in based on rules you set.

  • New feature added to caching.

While centralized security is a benefit of both forward and reverse proxy servers. However, reverse proxy providers provide this benefit only to that layer on the webserver, not clients. instead of the maintenance of firewalls on the layer of web servers that could include multiple servers and different configurations, the bulk of firewall security is targeted at the reverse proxy layer. Furthermore, the removal of the burden of working with a firewall and connecting with requests from customers through web servers allows them to concentrate on addressing the needs of their customers.

In the case of multiple servers running a reverse-proxy the reverse proxy can also handle the direction of which requests are directed towards which servers. There could be multiple web servers operating on the same server, each providing various kinds of resources or a combination of the two. They can use the HTTP protocol as a traditional web server, but they could also be outfitted with application server protocols such as FastCGI. It is possible to set up reverse proxy servers that redirect users to a particular servers based on the services requested, or to adhere to a set of rules for the traffic load.

Reverse proxies can also benefit by their position on top of web servers by providing caching capabilities. Large static assets can be set up by using caching rules in order to avoid needing to connect with web servers each time you request. Certain software solutions let you directly serve static content without having to communicate with the webserver at all. In addition reverse proxy solutions are able to handle compression of these assets.

The popular Nginx web server also functions as a well-known reverse proxy solution. Although Apache is an alternative to reverse proxy however, the Apache web server also comes with reverse proxy features however, it’s a separate feature available to Apache as opposed to Nginx was initially designed for and focuses on the reverse proxy feature.

Differentiating Forward Proxy and reverse Proxy Use

Because “forward” as well as “reverse” are ascribed to a sense of directionality and inaccurate comparisons to “incoming” as well as “outgoing” traffic the names could be confusing because both kinds of proxies handle the processing of requests as well as responses. The best method to distinguish between reverse and forward proxy is to take into account the requirements of the app that you are developing.

Reverse proxy can be useful when you are developing a solution that can deliver web-based apps over the internet. They act as your web server for any interaction you make on the internet.

Forward proxy are helpful when they are displayed before users for personal use or in the workplace. They represent the traffic of your client whenever you interact on the internet.

Separating by use case, instead of using only common naming conventions can ensure that you don’t get confused.


This article explains the meaning of a proxy using the two major types, which are the reverse proxy and forward proxy. Examples of practical use as well as a review of the useful features were used to differentiate forward proxies and reverse proxy. If you’re interested to learn more about the possibilities of proxies, you can check out our guide on how to configure Nginx as an internet server and reverse proxy within Apache on an Ubuntu 20.04 Server.

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