How Do Proxy Servers Work? – All About the Principle of Work and Functionality

by Dan Goodin
24 Mar 2022

"Proxy & VPN Virtuoso. With a decade in the trenches of online privacy, Dan is your go-to guru for all things proxy and VPN. His sharp insights and candid reviews cut through the digital fog, guiding you to secure, anonymous browsing."

Personal and regional locks stop being a problem for those who use proxy servers. They hide the user data by connecting via another unique IP address. Also, this tool can be useful for other issues, such as

  • saving traffic, 
  • protecting against network attacks, 
  • restricting access to the corporate network. 

About proxy servers

What is a proxy server?

A proxy server is an intermediary link between the computer used by the customer and the system of Internet servers. Its main task is to broadcast user requests to the Network and send back the received responses. 

When visiting sites on the Internet, you connect them directly. The sites get information about your

  • location, 
  • downloaded files, 
  • the time you spent on the site, 
  • your Internet provider, 
  • your personal computer. 

Consequently, we face two possible dangers

  • Revealing vulnerable points of the system
  • Detecting your physical location

Proxy servers mask the origin of requests to make connections safe. Different proxies focus on different aspects. Nowadays, there are over 1,000 proxies used in 54 different countries. The choice is indeed rich, so it is mandatory to get acquainted with all intermediary types and figure out the most appropriate one.

How do proxies work?

Each computer has a unique IP address for user identification. It carries information about the country, region, Internet provider, and personal computer. Like general computers, proxies also have unique IP addresses. After connecting to the proxy, transmitted requests come from an intermediary server. So, users themselves keep their incognito.

To connect to the intermediary, choose the browser you are going to use for sending requests and change its settings. All subsequent network connections will refer to the proxy server IP address. When you need to access a web resource, the local computer will open the intermediary and request it through it. After checking the correctness of the request, a connection to the resource will open. Then the intermediary transmits the received response to the user’s computer.

Get more information about the proxies here

Reasons to set up a proxy

Mostly, proxies serve for hiding the true IP address. The reasons for the concealment of identity can be different. The most popular reasons are the desire to access the site that blocks your IP along with the need to send mail anonymously. 

Here are other reasons for proxy server installation:

  • To protect the network or local computer from attacks;
  • To disguise confidential information;
  • To limit user access to certain types of web resources;
  • To connect several computers to the Internet with the same IP address;
  • To save the consumed traffic;
  • To reduce the load on the site providing customers with prompt access to it. 

You can find proxies on developers’ websites. Most of them are paid ones, but still some developers provide free versions. If you like to, you can buy an “authorized” server. Besides, you can download an intermediary using special software. It allows you to use a filter by country and test the operation of the proxy server. 


Proxy servers have gained the greatest popularity in the corporate segment. Through them, legal entities access online networks from local networks. Benefits provided by intermediaries:

  • Supported by the absolute majority of well-known web browsers;
  • Provides full access control, account, and filter traffic;
  • Allows to work with any set of rights on any operating system;
  • Increases the security of information exchange in the corporate network.

Types of proxies


It is the simplest kind of proxy. They do not offer privacy protection since they send your data but with a proxy IP address. That’s all you need to get you around simple IP bans. Schools and companies install such intermediaries to set up site filtering.


These intermediaries never pass your IP address to the site you are browsing. It helps to keep your data along with browsing activity private. If you want to keep your location secret and get rid of targeted ads, anonymous proxies are the best variant to use. But still, there is a slight chance for your information to reveal.

High anonymity 

These proxies are the most secure type. They do not share your data and do not identify themselves as a proxy when making requests. To give you the most privacy online, they periodically change the IP address. It makes it extremely hard for servers to keep track of traffic. If you don’t want to be tracked, this is the best option.


A distorting proxy works as an anonymous one. The main difference is that it passes false IP addresses in requests. It is useful if you want to assign a foreign address to get around specific content restrictions. 


Residential proxies use real IP addresses. These are the best types of intermediaries to use because they assure services they are general clients.


Datacenter proxies are the opposite of residential ones. They have computer-generated IP addresses not attached to the real device. It’s like having an intermediary in the cloud. The greatest advantage of this type is speed. 


These are the most insecure, unreliable proxies. Many of them are set up by hackers to steal data. The only reason people still use them is that they are free. It is not difficult to find free public intermediaries, but it is nearly impossible to find good ones. 


This proxy can belong to one client and needs authentication. It is a reliable version of public intermediaries.


These are the cheapest proxies available. Clients divide the cost of the proxy to access it simultaneously. Shared proxies are more complex since they handle a lot of requests at the same time. Depending on the number of users and requests, the speed of the connection. 


It is a specific type of private proxy. Unlike shared proxies, dedicated ones belong to one user. Thus, the intermediary reduces the possibility of a ban on different websites and services. The provider can control who has access to the intermediary to make sure that it isn’t being abused.


Rotating proxies work to create a new IP address for each request. They never use the same IP address more than once. Thus, proxies keep your anonymity and prevent data leakage. They provide a high level of security and privacy when combined with other types.


These proxies work on the principle of HTTPS requests. The ‘S’ in HTTPS means SSL. In other words, your web requests are secure. With SSL proxies you get even more security because all of your requests get through encryption. 


Reverse proxies work on a completely different principle. They hide the IP address of a server you’re trying to access, providing it security. Such proxies are useful for preventing unmonitored access to a database. 

To sum up

Using a proxy server ensures the privacy of network users when surfing the Internet, hiding their real IP address using a proxy IP. 

The functions of the intermediaries are to 

  • control Internet access, 
  • record and in some cases limit traffic, 
  • filter information, 
  • maintain anonymity,
  • improve network performance.

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