Have you ever wondered if there are worthwhile benefits of using proxy servers?
Well, actually, there are some decent pros (but also cons) that you as an online user should take into account when deciding whether or not to use such a service.
But before we start discussing the benefits of a proxy server, you might want to know what a proxy actually is and how it works. It will also help you better understand the benefits of the proxy server, among other things.
What is a Proxy Server?
A proxy server (often referred to as a “proxy” or “application level gateway”) is a server (either a computer or an application) that acts as a gateway between a local network and a large-scale network.
An example of that would be a server that acts as an intermediary between your computer and the internet.
Proxy servers can generally be classified as:
- Direct – The standard proxy category, Direct proxies are the intermediary between a computer and a larger network.
- Reverse – Reverse proxy servers are intermediaries between the web and a smaller group of servers. For example, a reverse proxy could act as a gateway between the Internet and a corporate LAN.
- Open – Open proxies (also called “public proxies”) can be accessed by any user. They are usually offered to the public for free.
How Does a Proxy Server Work?
Basically, a proxy server will act as an intermediary between a client and the server from which the client is requesting a certain service. It will take the client’s request and perform it on their behalf.
This is a basic example: Let’s say you want to use a proxy server to access a certain web page. The proxy will receive your request and do one of the following:
- It will analyze your local cache to see if it can find that particular web page. If it finds it, it will be returned to you without having to resend your request online.
- If the proxy does not locate the web page in its local cache, it will request that web page from the web. However, it will not use your IP to do so. Instead, the proxy will act as the client on your behalf and use one of its own IP addresses. Once it receives the page, it will match it to your original request and resend the page to you.
Of course, you as a user will not really be aware of that process. To you, it will appear that you are directly accessing a web page as you normally would.
What Types of Proxy Servers Are There?
In general, these are the most common types of proxy servers you are likely to encounter:
HTTP Proxy Servers,
These proxy servers can interpret network traffic, so they are used to cache web pages and files, making them quick and easy for users to access.
HTTP proxies can affect multiple connections at the same time without affecting their speeds. However, all that speed comes at a cost, namely a complete lack of encryption.
SSL Proxy Servers
Also known as HTTPS proxies, these proxies provide SSL (Secure Socket Layer) support for the connection between sender and receiver to secure it.
SSL proxies are less likely to be blocked by your ISP since they use TCP port 443. If your ISP were to block that port, it would mean that they would also block your ability to participate in online shopping or banking.
SOCKS Proxy Servers
Unlike an HTTP proxy, a SOCKS proxy doesn’t really bother interpreting web traffic, it just passes it on.
SOCKS proxy servers are quite versatile as they can handle multiple types of traffic such as emails (SMTP and POP3), FTP (File Transfer Protocol, used to upload files to servers), IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and even torrent traffic.
However, due to their popularity, SOCKS proxies tend to be a bit slower, as they tend to be overcrowded. Still, they do provide some security as they offer HTTPS support.
Web proxies can usually be used within your browser. They do not require you to install any additional software. Connections can be HTTP or HTTPS, so the level of security can vary.
These proxies don’t require any configuration on your part, but they mostly have basic uses, at least from an online user’s perspective.
Still, they’re worth mentioning because it’s a good idea to understand how they can affect you. While companies can employ transparent proxies to authenticate users when they log into their Wi-Fi networks, ISPs can also use them to filter various online content.
Fortunately, circumventing transparent proxies is not too difficult. All you need is an encrypted proxy or VPN (Virtual Private Network).
4 Benefits of Using Proxy Servers
1. Your IP Address Is Hidden
One of the best advantages of the proxy server; By using a proxy, the website you access will not be able to record your real IP address as it will record the IP address of the proxy server. Yes, that means you are somewhat anonymous when you browse online.
Don’t forget: your IP address can tell someone a lot about you, like what country and city you’re from. Cunning cybercriminals may even go the extra mile and use your IP address to find out things like who your ISP is, what your zip code is, and even what street you live on.
You wonder how a hacker could get access to your IP address? Unfortunately, a data breach or a leak on a website you visit could be enough for them to obtain this information.
So something like this is definitely useful nowadays.
2. You Can Access Blocked or Geographically Restricted Content
Unfortunately, a lot of online content is actually hidden behind geo-restrictions, mainly due to network and copyright regulations.
But since a proxy server hides your IP address, websites cannot prevent you from accessing them based on your geographic location.
A good example of this is using a proxy to access NOW TV outside of the UK.
In addition to that, you can also use a proxy server to bypass network restrictions at work or school, restrictions that would prevent you from accessing certain types of content online.
3. Loading Times Can Be Reduced
This is related to the fact that proxy servers can cache data. Basically, once they access certain web pages, they store them for later. When a cached page is requested, they can display it faster to the user.
But keep in mind that this will only happen if the proxy server already has the web page you are requesting in its local cache. If you don’t, you’ll have to request it from the internet, and you may not experience faster loading times in that case.
4. Malicious Websites Can Be Filtered
Another practical benefit of the proxy server is the fact that the administrator can prevent users from accessing websites that may be dangerous.
It may seem counterintuitive at first, but keep in mind the following: If the administrator knows that a certain website contains malware or phishing links, he or she can prevent proxy users from accessing it accidentally or unknowingly.
There could also be a chance that if you landed on a malicious website, any malware it might contain would infect the proxy instead of your device. However, please note that this is not a guarantee.
How “Anonymous” Are Proxies?
The advantages of using a proxy server are quite good, but proxies are not without their drawbacks.
For one thing, they don’t really offer the kind of “anonymity” that people like to say they do. In fact, the owner of a proxy will always know who you are because they can see your IP address.
Now proxy servers can be classified according to the level of privacy they offer. Officially, they come in 3 levels, with level 1 being the best for privacy:
Level 3 – Transparent Proxies
Not to be confused with the Transparent proxies mentioned above, these proxy servers don’t really offer any privacy.
Why? Because they send virtually all information about you to the websites you access. In theory, your IP is hidden, but it can still appear in the request header that is sent to the website.
Level 2 – Anonymous Proxies
Also called Jabber proxies, these proxy servers do not reveal your IP address to the server you are connecting to.
However, it is worth noting that the server you connect to will know that you are using a proxy to access it. Cast? Because it seems that “anonymous” proxies actually identify themselves by attaching additional headers to the requests they send.
Tier 1 – Elite Proxies
The best option: Elite proxies will hide your IP address, and the websites you access will have no idea that you are using a proxy to connect to them.
Just keep in mind that for all the privacy-focused benefits of Elite proxy servers, you may have to settle for slower connections because they’re so popular with online users.
What are the drawbacks of using proxy servers?
Proxy servers don’t exactly offer you top-notch online security. Sure, some proxies come with SSL-type encryption, but that’s not as secure as it sounds. Also, if you value your privacy, you may not be too happy to learn that the NSA can actually intercept and break SSL.
Also, if you don’t plan to use a web proxy service, you may have to configure the proxy connection yourself. It’s not extremely complicated, but it can be annoying and tiring if you need to change server locations quite often.
Oh yes, and you have to be very careful about which provider you choose. Don’t forget: if you access something online over HTTP instead of HTTPS, the owner of the proxy could monitor your activities, not to mention that a provider can also block harmless websites if they so choose.
“Can I Use Free Proxies?”
Well, I could. They are free after all, so what do you have to lose?
Quite a lot, actually. Here are some of the reasons why you shouldn’t use a free proxy service:
- A large number of free proxies are run by volunteers. While that’s admirable, it also means the service can be unstable and go offline at random intervals.
- 79% of free proxies do not use HTTPS, leaving you completely “exposed” online.
- You have no way of trusting the proxy provider as they theoretically do not make any money from you so they have no liability towards you.
- Naturally, free proxies are often crowded, so you’ll likely have to deal with slow internet connections.
So ideally you should opt for private proxies instead. Even better, you could add an extra layer of security by using a VPN service that offers proxy server access.
If you’re not sure why you should use a VPN over a proxy, consider this: A VPN already offers the same benefits as proxy servers, and on top of that, it uses strong encryption protocols, keeping you safer online. line than a proxy server.
That, and they’re configured at a system level, meaning you only need to configure it once to make sure all of your online connections on a device go through the VPN. And before you ask, no, free VPNs they are also not ideal.
CactusVPN: Our VPN Servers Also Work As Proxy Servers
We have over 30 servers around the world, and they all come with 1Gbps speeds and unlimited bandwidth. Also, they are not just VPN servers, you can also use them as proxy servers if you want.
High-End Internet Security to Protect Your Data
If you prefer to get all the benefits that a proxy can offer and enjoy the peace of mind that your online browsing is not monitored and your personal data is not at risk (even on a public WiFi connection), you can always use our VPN clients .
How much internet security are we talking about? Well, we offer AES encryption, just about the most reliable encryption standard out there.