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The term “proxy” refers to a proxy, also called a proxy server is program that acts as an intermediary between client and server via the internet. Without proxy servers, a user will send a request to resources directly to the server and it would serve the resource directly back towards the customer. This method is simple to understand and implement, however, adding proxy servers can bring advantages like increased speed and privacy, security and many more. As an additional layer of passing through, the proxy acts as a guardian for the internet between clients and servers.

Generally speaking, the bundled system of server hardware that is paired with installed proxy software is also commonly called a proxy server. This article will discuss the proxies that are usually considered to be software, as well as in relation to web servers. We will discuss of the two main types of proxies, one being one that is a forward proxy and reverse proxy. reverse proxy. Each type has its own application and can be confusing because of the similar namesake convention.

This article will give you an understanding of different subtypes and proxies in terms of their importance for the common setups. If you read in this post, you’ll understand the situations when the use of proxy servers is advantageous and choose the most appropriate option between reverse proxy and forward proxy based on the situation.

Understanding Forward Proxies

Forward proxy, also referred to in the context of open proxy. An open proxy is the agent of a customer who wants to make an internet-based request to the server that originated it. In this situation, all attempts to send requests made by the client’s end will instead be sent directly to forward proxy. Forward proxy in lieu of the client, will look into the request. It will first verify if the client is authorized to accept requests from this particular forward proxy. Then, it will deny any request, or redirect it to the server that originated it. The client is not able to have an internet connection directly; it can only reach what the forward proxy allows it to connect to.

The most common reason to use forward proxies is the increased privacy or anonymity on the internet. Forward proxy’s access to the internet as clients, and in this way, it could use an IP address that is different from the IP address used by the user.

Depending on the way it’s configured, forward proxy will grant a number of features and the capability to:

  • Beware of Ad-trackers.

  • Circumvent surveillance.

  • Find restrictions based on the location you are in.

Forward proxies also are employed in systems that offer centralized security as well as access to users based on permissions, for instance in workplaces. When all internet traffic flows through a forward proxy and administrators are capable of allowing only certain clients to access the internet via a common firewall. Instead of putting firewalls in place to protect the client layer which could include multiple machines with varying settings and environment, a firewall can be placed in a forward proxy layer.

It is important to remember to set forward proxy preferences need to be manually setup to allow the forward proxy to function in order to use them and reverse proxy servers are unable to be noticed by the user. Depending on whether the IP address of a user is sent to the origin server through the forward proxy privacy and security can be granted or not.

There are many options to think about when it comes to forward proxy alternatives:

  • Apache A well-known open source web server with forward proxy features.

  • Nginx A renowned open-source web hosting server that has forward proxy functions.

  • Squid: A free forward proxy that uses an HTTP protocol. It’s not the entire webserver system. You can refer to our guide on the best method of configuring Squid proxy to allow secure connections within Ubuntu 20.04.

  • Dante Forward proxy that makes use of the SOCKS protocol instead of HTTP and HTTP, which makes it better suited to scenarios like peer-to-peer traffic. You can also learn how to set up Dante proxy for secure connections within Ubuntu 20.04

Understanding Reverse Proxies

Reverse proxy functions as an intermediary to web servers, and is able to handle requests from customers for the web server. The web server may serve as a single server, or as a series of servers. It could also serve as an application server, such as Gunicorn. In any event, the request for an application comes from a user via the internet in general. The request will typically go directly to the web server which hosts the information that the user is looking for. Reverse proxy, however, acts as an intermediary to isolate your web server from contact to the open internet.

From a consumer’s point perspective, using reverse proxy doesn’t differ from interacting with the web server directly. It is functionally similar, however the client cannot tell the distinction. The client requests an item and receives it, without requiring any additional configuration from the user.

Reverse proxy providers provide features like:

  • The web server is secured centrally.

  • The sending of traffic according to rules you set.

  • Added functionality for caching.

While central security is a benefit of both forward and reverse proxy, reverse proxies provide this feature only to the web server layer but not to the client layer. instead of the maintenance of security firewalls in Web server layers that may include multiple servers with different configurations, the bulk protection of the firewall is directed to the reverse proxy layer. In addition, taking the burden of interacting with firewalls and responding to requests from clients off of web servers enables them to concentrate on providing resources.

If there are multiple servers with a reverse-proxy, the reverse proxy is also responsible for controlling which requests go at the server. There could be multiple web servers running on the same server, all serving different kinds of resources or a mix of the two. These servers could use the HTTP protocol, which is similar to a traditional web server. They could also incorporate application server protocols like FastCGI. You can also set up reverse proxy settings to redirect clients to specific servers depending on the service requested, or to observe certain guidelines regarding traffic load.

Reverse proxies are also able to benefit from their position on top of web servers by making use of caching. Large static assets can be configured with caching rules to avoid the web server from being hit with each request. Some solutions even allowing you to provide static files directly without connecting directly to the website server. Furthermore, the reverse proxy can manage compression of these assets.

The well-known Nginx web server is an extremely popular reverse proxy option. Although the Apache web server also comes equipped with reverse proxy function as an additional function that is available for Apache whereas Nginx was initially designed for and focused on the reverse proxy function.

Differentiating Forward Proxy from reverse Proxy Use Situations

Since “forward” along with “reverse” are associated with an impression of directionality, and also false comparisons with “incoming” and “outgoing” traffic. These terms can be confusing since both types of proxy servers can manage requests and responses. Another method of separating between reverse and forward proxy servers is to analyze the specifications of the software you’re creating.

Reverse proxy is an effective tool when you are creating a solution for serving web applications on the internet. They represent your web servers in any interaction with the Internet.

Forward proxy is a great tool to use when you are in front clients to use for personal purposes or in a work environment. They can be used to represent the traffic of your clients when you are on the internet.

A distinction that is based on the use case instead of focusing on the common name conventions can aid you in getting rid of confusion.


The article described what a proxy is and the two kinds of proxy being the reverse proxy and forward proxy. Practical examples of its use and a discussion of most useful features were used to distinguish forward proxies from reverse proxies. If you’re interested in learning how to set up proxies, we suggest you go through our guide on how to configure Nginx as an reverse proxy and internet server using Apache running and Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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