Many people have false assumptions that the internet is a safe place to study, work, or entertain. Unfortunately, the problem is that the internet is full of spam and security breaches that come from pure pictures on certain websites, sales and deals pop-ups, or unsecured providers.
Luckily, there are different proxy servers available that can help you protect your IP address and secure browsing on the internet. Thus, a virtual private network (VPN) and a proxy server have similar functionalities. But, free proxies have both advantages and disadvantages of using them. Identifying their benefits and drawbacks can help you to choose the one that suits you most.
What is a Proxy Server?
A proxy server is a technology that helps to understand the communication between the client who requests a resource and the server which provides that resource. It is a server that separates end-user clients from the browsers and supplies different functions levels, security, and privacy, following your needs and company policy.
When you are using a proxy server, it makes your traffic go through the server and then come back through the same proxy with the requested information received from the website.
Using a modern proxy server helps to ensure data security, network performance and connections, high privacy, and cache data for faster search. As a result, a good proxy server helps to stay protected from viruses and spam on the internet.
How Does a Proxy Work?
The Internet Protocol address (IP) is a unique address that identifies every device on the internet. Generally, the internet knows how and where to send information to the correct computer, based on the IP address.
A proxy server is a computer with an IP address. As a result, when you request the website, it goes through a proxy server and then delivers to you. When a proxy server receives a request, it collects the requested response from the website and sends the data to you.
In some cases, a proxy server can change your IP address to prevent a website from accessing your data, including location. It can also encrypt your information, making it impossible for web servers to read it. Besides, a proxy server can block access to suspicious websites after identifying their IP address.
Types of Proxy Servers
Many different proxy types exist on the internet. Here’s information about the most popular ones.
Datacenter proxies are artificial and stored in data centers worldwide. They offer fast and stable performance for internet users. Yet, websites can identify some data center proxies and block access in the future.
Residential proxy is good to use for businesses to achieve bigger targets. The residential proxy server has legit IP addresses with a physical geo-location. As a result, connection through a residential proxy makes the website think that it is a human searching their page.
Additionally, there are three types of proxies such as shared, semi-dedicated, and private. For instance, shared proxies are proxy servers used by multiple people at the same time. In this case, the performance is shared between every internet user who uses the proxy. Semi-dedicated proxies are usually shared between three to five internet users and designed for a particular job. Finally, private proxies, also known as dedicated proxies, are individual servers that one user can employ in different destinations.
Why Should You Use a Proxy?
We identified several reasons why most individuals and businesses use a proxy server.
- To improve security on the internet: A proxy server can hide your IP address to prevent used websites from tracking your location, including your street address, zip code, or other things that can endanger your life. A server will change your IP address to its own, making you protected.
- To secure internet access for employees: A proxy server allows you to block certain websites for employees if it is not appropriate according to the company policy. Additionally, you can block websites that can distract employees during their work, such as social media, games, and other unnecessary activities.
- To access restricted web servers: On the internet, you cannot access some content that hides behind geo-restrictions due to copyright regulations. However, when a proxy server hides your IP address, it prevents websites from accessing it because your real geo-location is not available for anyone.
- To reduce load time: Proxy servers cache data, making it easier and faster to open when internet users request a specific website. For instance, proxy servers cache data from accessed websites and save them for later use, reducing the load time in the future.
Additionally, a proxy server has a reduced load time if it has a requested website in its cache. However, a proxy will have to request data that will not be as fast if it does not.
- To filter certain websites: A proxy service allows admins to block users from accessing certain dangerous websites. As a result, internet users can avoid possible malware or phishing links from websites that might affect their proxy and software.
Risks of Using a Free Proxy Server
Despite the benefits a proxy server provides to internet users, there are always possible drawbacks that they can experience. We studied and identified three risks a free proxy server can encounter.
- Tracking: A proxy server remembers all information, including passwords, and caches the data. There is nothing to worry about unless the server gets hacked. Furthermore, there have been some cases when employees from proxy companies misused the information. We recommend using a proxy from a legitimate service provider to avoid undesirable consequences.
- Security: Some proxy servers use SSL certificates to encrypt the data, but it is not enough to prevent several attacks, such as SSL stripping.
- Cost: Using a proxy server is not cheap. While some large corporations can cover the cost of setup, maintenance, and installation fees, small businesses and individuals cannot afford it.
Most businesses use proxy servers to gather large-scale data that consists of complex tasks. It includes gathering publicly available data without getting blocked by certain websites.
In this case, proxies are valuable for businesses and individuals that need to have a full report with specific data found on certain websites. Proxy servers can help individuals to access geo-blocked websites, hide IP addresses, and reduce load time. For businesses, proxy servers can ensure total security and help to gather publicly available data on blocked websites. Make sure to check the benefits and drawbacks of using a proxy server to identify if you or your business lacks one.