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proxy, also known as proxy, also referred to as proxy or proxy server is a server software that sits acting as an intermediary between client and server on the internet. In the absence of an intermediary a user would make a request for something straight to the server, and servers would serve the requested resource directly back to the client. Although this method is easy to understand and implement, proxies can provide benefits such as improved performance, privacy, security and more. As a pass-through layer proxy is a gatekeeper for the internet between servers and clients.

Generally speaking it is the bundled set of server hardware and proxy software is described as a proxy server. This article will focus on proxy servers that are typically understood as software, as well as those used to complement web servers. This article will give a synopsis of the two types that are available, which is the forward proxy and reverse proxy. reverse proxy. Each comes with its own specific use case, and is frequently misunderstood due to the similar terms.

This article will provide you with an understanding of types of proxy services and what their subtypes are as well in how they work in the common configurations. Through this article, you will be able to recognize the situations in which you can benefit from a proxy and determine the most appropriate option in between forward and reverse proxy for any particular situation.

Understanding Forward Proxies

The forward proxy also known as the open proxy is an agent of a user who wishes to send a request through the internet to the server that originated it. In this case, it’s the scenario that all requests sent by the user would prefer to be routed directly at the forward proxy. Forward proxy acting in place of the client, will look over the request. In the beginning, it will determine whether the client is able to accept requests via this particular forward proxy. It will then decide whether to reject requests or redirect them to the original server. The client does not have direct connection to the internet but it is able to access the information that forward proxy grants to access.

The most common reason to use forward proxies is to increase security or privacy online. A forward proxy can be used to access the internet on behalf of clients. In the process, it’ll use a different IP address than the original IP address used by the client.

Based on how it was configured according to the way it was configured, a forward proxy could offer you a range of functions and the capability to:

  • Beware of ads that track you.

  • Circumvent surveillance.

  • You can identify restrictions based upon your geographic location.

Forward proxies are also employed in systems to provide central security, as well as permission-based access, like in a workplace. If all internet traffic flows through an open forward proxy layer an administrator can restrict access to certain users to the internet. This is then filtered by a typical firewall. Instead of having firewalls installed for the client layer which may comprise several devices that are different in terms of user and environment A firewall can be placed in the forward proxy layer.

Remember that forward proxies have to be manually set up before they can be utilized to use them, while reverse proxies are able to not be detected by the user. Based on the fact that the IP address of the user is transmitted to the server which originated it via the forward proxy privacy and anonymity may be granted or kept in the dark.

There are many options to take into consideration for forward proxies:

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

  • Nginx: Another well-known open-source server for hosting websites with forward proxy capabilities.

  • Squid: A free forward proxy that uses the HTTP protocol. It’s not an entire web server service. Read our guide on how to set up Squid proxy so that it allows private connections in Ubuntu 20.04.

  • Dante Forward proxy that uses the SOCKS protocol rather than HTTP to make it more suitable for scenarios such as peer-to -peer traffic. You might also want to look at how you can set up Dante proxy for private connections in Ubuntu 20.04

Understanding Reverse Proxies

A reverse proxy functions as an agent for the web server which takes care of the incoming requests of clients on behalf of. Web servers can represent one or more servers. In addition, it could be an application server like Gunicorn. In any of these situations an application request is made by a user who is on the internet. In most cases the request will go directly to the web server hosting the information the user is looking for. In contrast reverse proxy serves as an intermediary that helps to protect Web server from any direct interactions with the internet’s open.

From the point of view of the user that is a user’s viewpoint, interfacing via reverse proxy is anything different than working with a Web server in direct contact. It is functionally the same as the web server, and the client cannot tell the difference. The client is able to request the resource and receive the resource without any additional configuration required on the part of the client.

Reverse proxies grant features such as:

  • Secured centrally for Web Server Layer.

  • The direction of traffic coming in based on rules you set.

  • Added functionality for caching.

While central security is an advantage of both reverse and forward proxy, reverse proxies do this for their web server layer and not to the client layer. instead of maintaining firewalls in the layer of web servers, which can contain several servers with different configurations the majority of the firewall security is targeted on the reverse proxy layer. Furthermore, the detachment of the responsibility of interfacing with a firewall and communicating with requests from clients off of web servers enables them to concentrate entirely on satisfying the requirements of their clients.

If there are multiple servers operating through reverse proxy, the reverse proxy could also be responsible for directing the requests that are directed to which server. There may be several web servers serving identical resources, but each one offering a different type of services or a mixture of the two. These servers may be running an HTTP protocol to serve as a standard web server, but they can include applications server protocols like FastCGI. You can set up reverse proxy in order to direct visitors to a specific servers based on the kind of resource they’re looking for, or to adhere to certain guidelines regarding traffic load.

Reverse proxies are also able to benefit from their position before web servers, by providing the ability to cache. Large static assets can be able to be configured using caching rules that prevent them from getting into web servers with every request. There are solutions that provide the option of providing static files without having to connect with the server on any manner. Furthermore, the reverse proxy will manage the compressing these assets.

The renowned Nginx webserver is a very popular reverse proxy option. Although Apache has a reverse proxy solution, the Apache web server is also equipped with a reverse proxy function, it is a different characteristic of Apache but Nginx was designed originally for and focused on the reverse proxy function.

The difference in Forward Proxy and Reverse Proxy Use Cases

Because “forward” or “reverse” are associated with directionality, they can also lead to misleading comparisons with “incoming” as well as “outgoing” traffic. They can cause confusion since both kinds of proxies are able to respond to requests as well as responses. Better yet, the best method to differentiate between those proxies that are forward or reverse is to examine the requirements of the application you’re creating.

A reverse proxy can be helpful when building an application that connects web-based applications on the internet. They function as servers when you are on the internet.

Forward proxy is beneficial when they are placed in front of the user for personal use, or even in a working environment. They serve as the proxy for your client when you use the internet.

The ability to differentiate by the use of rather than focusing solely on the same naming conventions will ensure that you do not get confused.


This article defined what a proxy is with two types, namely the forward proxy and reverse proxy. Practical applications as well as an exploration of useful features were utilized to distinguish between forward and reverse proxy. If you’re looking to learn more about the use of proxy services, be sure to check out our tutorial on how to set up Nginx as a web server as well as reverse proxy in Apache on an Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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