What Is a Proxy Server?


Many people just surf the net without ever thinking about how things work on the web. Both individuals and businesses use proxy servers or VPNs to see the content online without ever spending a single thought on what happens when they make a request to see a particular website.

On the other hand, tech-savvy internet users know the mechanisms of the world wide web and use a particular proxy server to see the websites they want. Proxies play a crucial role in how you surf the net and the content you can see.

With that in mind, let’s define what a proxy is, the main types of proxies, and how you can benefit from using them.

What’s a Proxy?

Each time you want to go online to see a certain website, you send a request directly to that website, and the website sends the information back to you, allowing access to the content you wanted to see. A proxy stands between you and the internet. It’s an intermediary that reroutes your requests to unlock geo-restricted content without getting detected or blocked, etc.

Proxies are crucial for businesses because they provide different functionalities, such as providing more online privacy, HTTP headers manipulation, increasing online security, hiding your computer’s IP, and more.

Main Types of Proxies

While there are many types of proxies, each with its pros and cons, some are simply better for both individual internet users and businesses. These are main types of proxies that include:

  • Rotating proxy – this type of proxies provides a large pool of IP addresses and are configured to use the power of automation to assign new IP addresses to every new user’s request. You can use rotating proxies along with residential proxies to form a network to make your requests less detectable when scraping the web.

  • Dedicated proxy – reserved for one user, dedicated proxies ensure that the user gets exclusive access to a range of IPs offered through their proxy server. If you’re using web scraping tools to extract data from websites, a dedicated proxy is an excellent way to do so without triggering anti-scraping measures.

  • Residential proxy – a residential proxy provides the user with a real, genuine IP address. Residential proxy servers use a subnetwork of devices with unique IPs and physical locations. They are perfect for purposes like web crawling and web scraping, which is why businesses use them to scrape the web without being flagged or banned.

  • Datacenter proxy – datacenter proxies provide a pool of non-physical IP addresses where IPs are artificially created according to the user’s needs. This type of proxies is perfect for businesses that need low latency and unmatched bandwidth.

  • HTTP proxy – HTTP proxies give users complete control over how HTTP requests and responses are handled. Businesses use them primarily to identify suspicious traffic, filter cookies, and content types, web scraping, and web crawling, block complete URL paths, and more.

Benefits of Using Them

Using proxies provides many great benefits, especially for businesses. Here are the most important ones:

  • Improved security – proxies can help protect your business by adding an additional layer of protection between your company’s servers and all external traffic, thus reducing the chances of data breaches.

  • Bypassing geo-restrictions – proxies can easily hide your IP and change your location, allowing you to access restricted content, otherwise blocked in your location, which is why people mostly use them for web scraping purposes. If you need to access websites in Japan, a Japanese proxy would be the most effective way to access the content in that location.

  • Bandwidth savings and faster speeds – since proxies can help save on bandwidth, you can use them to increase your internet speeds by caching web pages and files, compressing traffic, blocking ads, and more.

  • Traffic balancing and server-crash protection – if you combine proxies with cloud data storage and peering, you can easily handle slow loading speeds and downtime.

  • Increased anonymity – individual internet users use proxies to improve anonymity when surfing the web and prevent third parties from tracking their traffic online.

How are Proxies set up?

There are two ways to set up proxies: by using an automatic configuration script or manually. The first scenario includes the following steps:

  • Go to Settings
  • Open Network & Internet to list the available options
  • Click Proxy
  • Set the Use Setup Script switch to On in the Automatic Proxy Setup section.

The second scenario includes steps 1-3 from the first scenario, with a difference – Instead of going to Automatic Proxy Setup, open the Manual Proxy Setup section and type the IP in the address field and the port in the Port field and hit Save.

Both Individuals and Businesses Use Them

Individual internet users mostly use proxies for everyday purposes such as increased anonymity, tracking, and monitoring prevention, and gaining access to blocked content. When it comes to businesses, proxies help companies target leading global websites to extract valuable and competitive data without getting blocked (just like our example with Japanese proxy).

On top of that, businesses also use proxies to add an additional layer of privacy, anonymity, and security on the web.

How to Find a Good Proxy

If you need a good proxy, start your search by deciding what type of proxy you need. The type directly depends on the purposes of use and your needs. Choose a reliable seller, and consider the price as well. Check out user reviews to see how good your choice is. More importantly, choose a proxy that provides all the necessary features you need to achieve your goals. You may start your research with some market-leading providers, like Oxylabs.


Whether you’re an individual user or a business user, proxies are extremely useful. They can help you achieve so many different goals, from browsing the web anonymously to enhancing security and providing access to top-rated websites for scraping. However you take it, they are essential to your safety and security in the digital age.

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