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proxy is also referred to as a proxy is commonly referred to by the name of a proxy,, a software that sits acting as an intermediary between a client and server via the internet. Without the use of proxy, a user could send a request for any resource directly to the server, and the server would give the requested resource directly to the user. This method is simple to understand and use, however, the addition of proxy servers can offer advantages in terms of better speed, privacy and security, among other things. Alongside providing a layer of security it also serves as a security guard to the internet, separating clients and servers.

In general, the combined package of server hardware along with the software for proxy installation is commonly referred to as proxy servers. This article we will focus on proxies traditionally classified as software, and in connection with web server. You will get a breakdown of the two principal kinds of proxies, which are an forward proxy and a reverse proxy. Each has its own usage scenario, which is often confused due to the overlap in name convention.

This article will provide you with an understanding of what proxies and subtypes are, and how they are useful in a variety of configurations. In this guide, you’ll be able to identify situations in which it is beneficial to use a proxy and make the right alternative between forward and reverse proxy depending on the scenario.

Understanding Forward Proxies

A forward proxy also referred to as an open proxy is a proxy for a user who is trying to connect via the internet to a source server. In this case, every attempt to send requests made by the user will be handled by the forward proxy. This forward proxy acting in place of the client, will examine the request. It will first determine if the client has been authorized to receive requests from this specific forward proxy. Then, it’ll either reject requests or redirect them to the original server. It’s not able directly connect directly to internet. It only has access to what the forward proxy permits it to access.

A common use for forward proxy is to provide greater privacy or security when using the internet. A forward proxy can connect to the internet as a client and through this way, it assigns an alternative IP address to the client’s IP address.

Depending on how it has been configured based on the way it was configured forward proxy can provide a variety of functions that allow you to:

  • Avoid tracking ads.

  • Circumvent surveillance.

  • You can identify limitations based on your geographic location.

Forward proxies are also employed in systems that give central security and access through permissions, for instance in a workplace. Internet traffic can be routed via an open forward proxy. administrators can restrict access to specific people to connect on the internet, which is then filtered by the standard firewall. Instead of maintaining firewalls on this layer of client, which could be utilized by a variety of computer systems with different settings and users. A firewall may be found in this forward proxy layer.

Take note that forward proxy servers require manual setup in order to allow the use of them, but reverse proxy servers will not be noticed by the user. Based on the fact that the IP address of a user is sent to the origin server via the forward proxy Privacy and anonymity can be granted or kept in the dark.

There are numerous alternatives to think about in the case of forward proxy services.

  • Apache is a well-known open-source web server, which offers forward proxy features.

  • Nginx is another well-known open-source web server that comes with forward proxy functionality.

  • Squid: An Open Source Forward Proxy which makes use of the HTTP protocol. It doesn’t come with the entire web server. This is a step-by-step tutorial for setting up Squid proxy for secure connections on Ubuntu 20.04.

  • Dante Forward proxy that uses the SOCKS protocol instead of HTTP and is better suited for cases like peer-to-peer connections. You can also look at how you can install an Dante proxy that will allow private connections in Ubuntu 20.04

Understanding Reverse Proxies

Reverse proxy functions as an intermediary between a web server, handling incoming requests from clients in its place. The server could function as a one server, or a number of servers. Furthermore, it could include an application servers, such as Gunicorn. In any event, it’s possible to get an inquiry from a client through the internet at large. In most cases, the request would be directed directly to the server that hosts the information the client wants. A reverse proxy serves as an intermediary to isolate your web server from communication with the internet’s users.

From a consumer’s point perspective, which is also from a user’s perspective, interacting using reverse proxy is not distinct from the interaction with the server on its own. It’s functionally identical to an internet server. The client cannot tell the difference. Clients can request the resource and is then given it, without any extra configuration required from the user.

Reverse proxies grant features like:

  • Security centralized to web server.

  • Controlling traffic coming in by using rules that you make.

  • The caching functionality was added to the application.

While central security is a benefit of both forward and reverse proxy systems, reverse proxies provide this service to servers on the internet, but not the layer of clients. Instead of implementing firewalls at the layer of web servers which might contain multiple servers with various configurations, the majority of firewall security is located at the reverse proxy layer. In addition, the absence of interfacing with firewalls and interacting with requests from clients without web servers lets them concentrate on addressing the needs of their customers.

In the case of multiple servers hosting through a reverse proxy the reverse proxy is responsible for directing which requests go towards which servers. Multiple servers may be providing the exact same service, but each providing different types of resources, or a combination of the two. They can use the HTTP protocol similar to a traditional web server however, they could also be outfitted with protocols for application servers like FastCGI. You can set up reverse proxy that directs customers to specific server depending on the resource requested or to follow specific rules regarding traffic load.

Reverse proxy solutions also profit from their placement on the top of web servers by using caching capabilities. Large static assets can be set up by caching rules to prevent hitting web servers with every request. Some solutions even allowing you to serve static content directly without connecting to the web server in any way. In addition, the reverse proxy is able to compress these assets.

The popular Nginx web server can also function as a popular reverse proxy service. Although it is real that Apache web server comes with reverse proxy features but it’s an additional option. Apache in contrast to Nginx was designed initially to and focused on the reverse proxy feature.

Differentiating Forward Proxy from reverse Proxy Use Cases

Because “forward” as well as “reverse” are associated with a sense of directionality and inaccurate comparisons with “incoming” or “outgoing” traffic. The labels are confusing because both kinds of proxies handle requests and responses. The best way to differentiate between forward and reverse proxy services is to take into account the needs of the application you’re developing.

Reverse proxy is an essential element when designing an infrastructure to connect web-based applications on the internet. They are your web servers for any interaction on the internet.

Forward proxy applications can be advantageous when displayed in front of clients to use for personal purposes, or in a workplace. They are a representation of the traffic of your client when you use the internet.

Utilizing case-based differentiation instead of focusing solely on the most common names will ensure that you don’t be confused.


This article clarified what a “proxy” is and the two main types of them being the reverse and forward proxies. Practical applications and a review of beneficial features was used to differentiate forward proxies from reverse proxy. If you’re interested exploring how to use proxies, read our guide on how to configure Nginx as a web server and reverse proxy for Apache on Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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