a proxy server is a server that retrieves data out on the internet, like a web page, on behalf of a user. so for example, normally when a computer wants to look at an internet page out on the web, you’d just open up an internet browser then type within the address and retrieve that website from its web server. Now once you go through a proxy server, the proxy server will act as a middleman and can retrieve that website for you. So now once you want to go to a website, the proxy server receives the request from your computer and therefore the proxy server will directly retrieve the web page on your behalf and then send it to your computer.
So, the question is why would you want to use a proxy server? Well, a proxy has several benefits and one benefit is privacy because it allows you to surf the web anonymously because it hides your IP address. Because without using a proxy and once you visit a website, your public IP address is visible so certain people can know which websites you’re visiting. But once you use a proxy, your IP address becomes invisible because the proxy server is retrieving the webpage for you, only the IP address of the proxy server can be seen viewing the webpage. So, your IP address stops here then the proxy IP does the rest of the work. And another advantage of using a proxy server is speed.
So, for example, if a corporation uses a proxy server and whenever a user wants to retrieve a webpage, the proxy server will retrieve the webpage from the web on behalf of the user then it’ll store that website into a centralized cache database.
So, if another user on a different computer goes to a webpage that has been stored within the proxy database, the proxy server doesn’t need to leave it on the internet to retrieve the web page. It can simply retrieve it from its database then send it to the user. So, this makes webpage retrieval much faster. And another advantage of this is often that it saves bandwidth because a proxy server reduces the necessity to go out on the internet to retrieve data because it already has that data stored in its database. And another advantage of a proxy is activity logging. Now tons of companies will use a proxy to stay track of what websites their employees are looking at. So, when a company’s employees are surfing the web, the proxy will keep a record of what websites they’re visiting and the way long they were on those websites. And additionally, a corporation also can configure the proxy to block certain websites to keep their employees from visiting them.
Now there’s one notable thing that a proxy server can’t do which encrypts data as you surf the internet. And when data isn’t encrypted, that data is often intercepted by hackers, ISPs, or governments with the right equipment. So, this is where a VPN comes in. A VPN or virtual private network not only hides your IP address but also encrypts the info that’s being transferred between your computer and the internet. So any activity that you simply do on the web, like viewing sites or transferring files, the info is encrypted and kept private when using a VPN. And no logging is involved. A VPN provides a dedicated secure tunnel between two points over the internet.