A web proxy is an intermediary that mediates the internet traffic between a user’s computer and a website when utilized. In simpler terms, it collects the traffic from the computer and sends it to the website. It also performs the same function for traffic in the opposite direction.
There are many different types of proxy, but a dedicated proxy is different in that it offers users one IP address in a location of their choice. Users can then connect from that address for an agreed length of time instead of having a pool of interchangeable addresses from which they can choose. Read on to understand proxies and why businesses should invest in dedicated proxies.
How do Proxies Work?
Specifically, a proxy operates as follows:
- The user’s device sends an HTTP request to access the website.
- The web proxy, configured to operate with the device, receives the request for processing.
- According to the proxy settings, it either sends the request unchanged to the website server or modifies it.
- Some of the actions performed on a request by a proxy server include caching content for faster loading speeds later, filtering its contents to reject certain types of content and pages, or masking the IP of the request for more privacy.
- After processing the request, the proxy server sends it to the website’s server.
- The web server sends a response to the proxy server.
- The proxy server delivers the response to the user’s device.
Features of Proxies
As stated earlier, a proxy can bestow certain features on a web request while processing it. These features depend on the type of proxy involved and the intentions of the proxy provider. With that in mind, here are some of the features that businesses and individuals have come to expect from web proxies:
- Improved Browsing Security. Some proxies possess encryption to protect data transferred through them, while some do not. However, even in cases where encryption is not provided, the ability to mask a request’s IP addresses can obscure a user’s identity and make their request a mystery.
- Better Privacy and Anonymity. Anonymity is the most popular reason for employing proxies. Because of the nature of proxy activity, they can help users appear as though they are connecting from elsewhere. As such, they are valuable tools for remote or hybrid workers to access location-specific corporate data and tools. Similarly, they can help businesses access geo-restricted content and data necessary for their research and business operations. This is especially true of residential and dedicated proxies.
- Web Traffic Monitoring. Proxies also allow for the monitoring of web activity. In the case of individual use, it can help monitor and filter the type of content available to younger family members. On the other hand, businesses can employ web proxies to monitor employees’ internet activity while they are at work. Similarly, a business can filter out access to certain platforms and websites to prevent distractions during work hours.
- Load Balancing. Proxy providers usually offer many different proxy servers in a variety of locations. Some have tens of thousands of IP addresses in over a hundred countries. The consequence for people doing data-intensive work (such as web scraping) is that they can hop from proxy to proxy to share the load. Sharing the load in such a way makes it look like the requests come from different locations and addresses. Similarly, websites can load balance to relieve strain on their servers.
Types of Proxies
There are various types of proxies offered by proxy vendors based on the location of the IP addresses. Some of them are:
- Residential Proxies. Such proxies have links to actual residential homes and areas and real Internet Service Providers. By extension, traffic originating from their servers appears to be from real individuals. Thus, they are ideal for tasks where the legitimacy of the connection is important.
- Datacenter Proxies. Unlike the residential proxies above, web hosting and datacenter services provide the IP addresses on offer. As such, they occur in a cluster of server farms and are identifiable as a datacenter solution for anonymity. Due to this, they are vulnerable to band because they do not appear as legitimate as the above option.
- Dedicated Proxies. Sometimes referred to as private proxies. They are single locations offered by proxy providers to customers when they want to appear from a particular location for longer. As such, rather than hopping from address to address, an individual can keep the same IP address. Dedicated proxies are suitable for remote workers, privately sourcing for a secure connection for an international gig.
Use Cases of Dedicated Proxies
- Social media managers may use dedicated proxies to manage accounts in other countries. Such an arrangement is necessary as logging in from different IP addresses could trigger a ban. The same logic applies to people who want to manage multiple accounts while not appearing as if they are doing so.
- Businesses and individuals who want to bypass geo-restrictions on content and data can employ dedicated proxies. In such instances, the proxy is available to them whenever they need it, supporting only their device.
- Communication. International communication, especially between remote workers sharing resources, is a problem. Companies can provide dedicated proxies to each employee to help them access the resources any time they wish from approved IP addresses.
Free proxies are fine, but their security is a chancy affair. Where high-stakes communication and data are involved, people cannot afford to play fast and loose with information. An easy way to guarantee the safety and readiness of a proxy connection is to use dedicated proxies.