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“proxy” is a term used to describe a server “proxy” means the notion of a proxy often known as a proxy server is software that serves in the role of intermediary between client and server on the internet. Without a proxy, a client could send a request to an item directly to a server and the server would then serve an item directly for the client. While this approach is straightforward to understand and use, proxies can provide advantages like more speed as well as security and privacy and so on. As a pass-through layer, the proxy serves as a shield to the internet between users and servers.

The general set of server hardware that is paired with the software to install proxy servers is commonly called proxy servers. This article will focus on proxy servers that are generally described as software but specifically, in relation to web servers. We will provide a brief overview 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 has its own use case, and is often misinterpreted due the overlapping terminology.

This article will give you an understanding of what proxies as well as their subtypes are and the ways in which they can be beneficial in a variety of configurations. If you read this article, you’ll learn to identify the circumstances in which using proxies can be beneficial and identify the most suitable option between forward proxy and reverse proxy for any particular situation.

Understanding Forward Proxies

Forward proxy is also referred to in the context of an open proxy serves as the client’s representative who is trying to relay requests via the internet to an source server. In this scenario, every attempt to send a request by the user will instead be sent via the forward proxy. This forward proxy in place of the client examines the request. It will then determine whether or not the client is able to send requests via this particular forward proxy. It will then decide whether to reject the request or forward it to the server that originated the request. The client is not able to connect directly to internet. It can only connect to the internet that forward proxy allows it to connect to.

The primary reason for people to utilize forward proxy servers is to improve security or privacy when surfing the internet. A forward proxy is able to access the internet, instead of a client, and in this way, it utilizes an alternative IP address to the IP address used by the client.

Based on the way it’s setup, and based on the way it is configured forward proxy could provide a variety of functions and allow you to:

  • Beware of ad-tracker.

  • Circumvent surveillance.

  • You can determine limitations based on your geographic area.

Forward proxies are also utilized to secure systems that are centralized and access is based on permissions, such as at a workplace. If all internet traffic goes through a common forward proxy layer, an administrator could limit access for just a small number of internet users and be filtered by the common firewall. Instead of creating security firewalls on the layer that is used by clients which could be used by a variety of computers, with various kinds of environments, there is a way to have a firewall at the forward proxy layer.

Be aware that forward proxy servers need to be configured manually to be used, while reverse proxies can be hidden from the view of clients. Based on the fact that an IP address belonging to the user is relayed to an server that originated it through the forward proxy, privacy and anonymity may be granted or not.

There are a variety of alternatives to look into for forward proxy services.

  • Apache An open-source, well-known web server with forward proxy capabilities.

  • Nginx is another widely-used open-source webserver, which includes forward proxy functions.

  • Squid is a free forward proxy that uses the HTTP protocol. It doesn’t come with the complete web server. Check out our instructions on how to configure Squid proxy to allow private connections to Ubuntu 20.04.

  • Dante Forward proxy that utilizes the SOCKS protocol instead HTTP which is more appropriate for use instances such as peer-to-peer connections. You may also want to know how to configure Dante proxy to permit private connections on Ubuntu 20.04

Understanding Reverse Proxies

A reverse proxy functions in the capacity of an intermediary for web server which processes requests from customers for its behalf. It could represent either a single or multiple servers. Additionally, it could be an application server, such as Gunicorn. In either case the request will be made via the internet in general. Typically, the request is directed directly to the web server which hosts the resources that the client requires of. A reverse proxy acts as an intermediary, and separates the web server from direct contact with the web’s public.

From the point of view of the client an individual’s viewpoint, the process of using reverse proxy isn’t any different from interacting with the server by itself. It’s exactly the same however the client cannot be able to discern the difference. Client makes a request for the resource and is then provided with it, without any additional configuration needed for the customer.

Reverse proxies provide features like:

  • The web server is secured centrally.

  • Traffic coming into your site is routed based upon rules you set.

  • A new feature for caching has been added.

While centralized security is a benefit offered by both reverse and forward proxy servers. However, reverse proxy providers offer this feature only to the server layer, it is not available to the client layer. In lieu of the maintenance of firewalls at the server layer that could include multiple servers, each with different configurations, the majority of firewall security is centered in the reverse proxy layer. Furthermore, taking the burden of interacting with firewalls and interacting with client requests away from web servers allows firewalls to focus on serving the requirements of their customers.

In the event that there’s multiple servers hosted by a reverse proxy, it is also accountable for the way requests are routed through which server. Multiple web servers could be providing the 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 can also use applications server protocols like FastCGI. You can also configure reverse proxy settings to send users to specific servers depending on the resource requested or to abide by certain guidelines for traffic load.

Reverse proxies may also profit from their position prior to web servers by offering the ability to cache. Large static assets may be configured by caching rules to ensure that web servers are not hit with every request. There are solutions that permit you to serve directly static files without having to connect directly to web servers in any form. Furthermore, the reverse proxy is capable of compressing these assets.

The renowned Nginx web server functions as an effective reverse proxy option. Although Apache can also be a reverse proxy solution however, the Apache web server comes outfitted with reverse proxy feature which is an additional feature available to Apache however Nginx was originally designed to and concentrates specifically on reverse proxy capabilities.

The distinction in Forward Proxy and Reverse Proxy Use Situations

Because “forward” and “reverse” come with connotations of directionality and misleading comparisons to “incoming” or “outgoing” traffic The labels can be confusing since both types of proxy servers handle requests and responses. A better approach to differentiate between forward and reverse proxy is to look at the specifications of the application you’re developing.

A reverse proxy is useful in the development of a solution to deliver web applications to the internet. They are your web servers whenever you interact using the internet.

Forward proxy is useful when used before customers to use for personal purposes or in an office setting. They are your client’s proxy when you interact with the internet.

Differentiating by case of use instead of focusing solely on common naming conventions can help you avoid confusion.

Conclusion

This article explains what a proxy is and provides two types: forward proxy and the reverse proxy. Practical examples of use and a brief overview of beneficial features were used to differentiate forward proxies and reverse proxy. If you’re keen to learn more about proxy servers, you should check out our tutorial on how to configure Nginx as reverse proxy with Apache on an Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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