What is a proxy server?

The connection between client and server is not always made directly. In many networks, so-called proxies assume the function of an intermediary. In this way, data streams can be optimally distributed and additional security mechanisms implemented.

Even private users sometimes decide to redirect their Internet traffic via a proxy server in order to disguise their own sender address and thus surf anonymously. We will tell you how to make proxy settings under Windows 7, 8 and 10, which problems can occur and how to fix them.

What is a proxy server?

A proxy is a server that is used as a communication interface between two computer systems. As a mediating instance, a proxy server receives client requests and forwards them to the respective target server with its own sender address. When using the Internet, private users primarily come into contact – albeit unknowingly – with so-called reverse proxies.

These are high-performance servers used by companies to protect their own web servers from attacks from the Internet, to distribute loads in the network and to increase the availability of online services.

These are switched in front of the respective productive systems, accept requests on behalf and forward them to the servers in the background. As a rule, the Internet user is not aware of this.

The situation is similar with so-called forward proxies, which are used in corporate networks to bundle data traffic to the Internet, implement filter functions or increase surfing speed through caching. In this case, the proxy server acts as the only access to the Internet.

If an employee wants to access online services from the local network, requests to the Internet server first pass through the proxy. This enables employers to block certain web content for the company network and thus restrict private Internet use.

Private proxy use

If proxy servers are used privately, the anonymization of Internet activities is usually the main focus. Users deliberately use the services of a forward proxy to hide their own system behind the IP address of the proxy provider. This can have different reasons: In addition to the protection of privacy in times of increasing surveillance, access to blocked web content is the decisive motive for many private proxy users. IP-based geolocalization allows providers to restrict online services to specific countries. A prominent example of this is Netflix. The popular movie streaming platform was initially not available to German users. American proxy servers, however, made it possible to circumvent the blockade.

  1. There are numerous providers on the Internet who provide free proxy services.
  2. Internet users should, however, think carefully about which server to switch between them and the Internet.
  3. A proxy may blur traces in the network, but the respective provider has full access to the data traffic passing through its server.
  4. If a forward proxy is to be used, the corresponding settings can be made via the Windows system control or directly in the browser.

We will show you the best way to do this in the following article.