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What is the Purpose of a Proxy Server?

Be it as an inbuilt network mechanism or a third-party service, proxies play a crucial role in online safety. Here’s how.  

With commercial and private applications, proxies are a safe and cheap way to combat online surveillance. But before jumping into its uses, you must know exactly what a proxy is.

1. Proxy Server: What is It? How Does It Work?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines proxy as “a person who is authorized to act for another.” So, a proxy server is a service that acts as an intermediary for your internet usage. 

A typical browsing session works on an intricate traffic of data. For example, say you want to read an online article about cats. Once you find a likable source, click the link to access the site. During this phase, your private network sends a request to the host site.

In the process, sensitive info like IP, address/location, and account details may be accessible to the other party. As a result, the host server can misuse, copy, and sell this data. A proxy server with proxy rotation prevents this by working as a liaison between your network and the party.

1.1. How Does a Proxy Operate?

The tech is based on network nodes that alter your IP or Internet Protocol as it passes through the system. A proxy server, therefore, masks your address from the host environment. Moreover, it substitutes its IP in place of your own. 

If your network is proxy-based, your requests will pass through these servers on their way to the host. This tech also receives the results on your behalf before transferring the data back to your network. Since these nodes alter your request package, they can ensure the anonymity of your browsing sessions.

If you want added protection for your system, you can opt for an HTTPS-based server. In regular proxies, the data traffic between your network, the host server, and the proxy system is unencrypted. This factor makes your sessions more prone to cyber-attacks.

However, in an HTTPS-based server, your logs are 100% encrypted. This system ensures added security to your browsing sessions by protecting your data from surveillance. 

2. Application of Proxies 

Aside from security and anonymity, proxies also offer faster loading speeds. Many network infrastructures have inbuilt proxies because of this factor. As mentioned, these servers work by intercepting and masking requests. A representative may receive multiple requests for the same host website in a single session.

Instead of processing each individually, the server uses a cached version of the site saved from the latest request. In addition, the proxy keeps an optimized version of the host environment on its server to save time. So, each time it receives a request to access the same, it forwards this version.  

The cached data helps you view details faster as it cuts down on loading speeds. The server does not have to make individual requests for each user. Moreover, caching also stores text-based infographics, images, and more. These details let you enjoy the full benefits of the site, even with an optimized version.

This system helps cut down data costs as caches require less data to access. Proxies also help maintain high loading speeds for multi-user networks using this system. ISPs or internet service providers typically use this type of server.

Also called residential proxies – they focus on browsing anonymity and are almost undetectable. ISPs use these servers to route internet traffic on devices connected to the Wifi. Because of their broad reach, residential proxies are more expensive. To buy such a proxy, you generally have to opt for a traffic-based subscription. 

3. Purpose of Proxies

This tech also has commercial purposes, with businesses using them to 

  • Collect prices/product data/trends data – On e-commerce & travel platforms
  • Analyze the ad performance of Competitors.
  • Monitor marketing statistics on search engines

Generating leads is one of the most crucial tasks for companies. Proxies help expedite this process by allowing businesses to collect valuable data on potential clients. However, you may have to customize your proxies to target suitable leads. 

For example, social media or SERP scraping operations may require you to access a data center proxy. Unlike residential proxies, these servers are sourced from massive data centers providing enormous pools of IPs. Therefore, they are 2X faster than residential proxies.

This ability to handle large traffic volumes makes data center proxies perfect for craping operations. Similarly, a static residential proxy would be more fitting if a business’s lead generation strategy requires geo-specific data. 

Businesses can also use proxies to limit access to specific sites. For example, with a large workforce, it may be difficult for companies to monitor their employees’ internet usage. In such cases, installing a proxy for the network helps filter traffic.

Working as central nodes, proxies intercept user data, ensuring the user can access only work-related sites. You must set up an internal proxy to reroute all outgoing traffic toward the central servers. Moreover, these can be customized to record users’ online activities to ensure they are not wasting company time. 

You can also finetune proxies to find suitable candidates for your business. Here, too, the traffic-intercepting quality of these servers comes in handy. For example, proxies can be set up to scrap and parse through large amounts of data to find an appropriate candidate. 

A residential proxy can be leveraged to finetune the search if your job role has geo-specific requirements. 

4. Conclusion

Data shows that cybercrime, breaches, and online surveillance issues rise 15% yearly. Since 2001, the per-hour victim count has grown from 6 to 91. Based on these data, there is no better time to get a proxy. 

Depending on your purpose, you can opt for a premium package with high scraping speeds or a basic version designed to keep your online browsing anonymous. Most services offer a traffic-based subscription – you can even buy proxies using crypto

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