You may have come across the word proxies. From what you hear, they provide so many benefits to users. Such include online anonymity, data encryption, and security. Further, you know that if you want to access geo-blocked content on the streaming services, a proxy will help you do that.
However, you still have lingering questions on proxies. Some of the research you have done just further adds to the confusion due to the authors’ technical language.
Our article will demystify proxies, what they are, their benefits, and so much more. And yes, we promise we will simplify our explanations as much as possible.
Alright, let’s dive into it.
What Are Proxies, and How Do They Work
The best way to understand proxies is to apply the definition to a real-life situation. Let’s say you are taking a flight. To access the airport facilities, you have to go through a security check.
The security scans you and your luggage. If everything is kosher, they let you through.
Now, what happens if they determine you may have something on you that they deem unacceptable. In the best-case scenario, security will confiscate the item. Worst case scenario, you will go to another room for a more intense search.
If you are a fan of the National Geographic docudrama Jailed Abroad, you know what could happen if the airport authorities catch you with contraband. Forgive the dramatization; it will make sense pretty soon.
There are some things you need to take away from the analogy above.
- You, and other travelers, are the traffic going into the airport
- The security is an intermediary/gateway/proxy
- The airport is the remote server
It is now easier to understand what a proxy is. But, let’s define it anyway.
A proxy is an online computer that sits between your browser and the remote server.
Every time you browse the internet, you send out requests to remote servers for information. Once they receive your request, the remote servers respond by sending back information. All this is traffic, going in and out of your browser.
Now, in that traffic, there could be all manner of things. Just like in the case of contraband, the traffic could include malware, malicious code, and so much more. If there is no sentry, or in this case, a proxy, to sieve or filter the content, it will reach your browser. It is also an area of vulnerability that hackers use to get access to unsecured sites.
At this point, you may be asking, is that all? Well, no, there is a lot more to learn about proxies. In providing more information, the benefits will come through.
Why You Need To Install a Proxy
- Online Privacy and Anonymity
Do you ever feel like people are spying on your every move when online? Sometimes the feeling gets so intense that you even block the front-facing camera on your laptop.
Well, the truth is it may very well be happening. And, the situation gets even scarier because they can pinpoint your exact location.
Now here is how a proxy can help.
Your Internet service provider (ISP) gives you a unique internet protocol (IP) address. Think about it like a physical address.
Remote servers can view your IP address any time you send requests. The only way to remain anonymous is to hide your address. A proxy, which also has its IP, can help.
Different proxies provide this functionality in different ways. Let’s take the example of a residential proxy. Such use an actual IP address from the ISP and ties it to a physical device like a computer or mobile device. The device becomes the intermediary for any connections, thus hiding your IP address.
You also have other proxy options depending on your needs. Such include:-
- Transparent proxies that can give total or partial anonymity
- Anonymous proxies that are harder to detect, although they may not give complete anonymity
- Elite and SOCKS proxies that give total anonymity.
- Faster Page Loading Speeds
Proxies can help with website performance. It does this by caching data for sites you frequently visit. Instead of sending a separate request to the remote server every single time, it loads from the downloaded information.
It reduces loading time by eliminating latency or the duration it takes for the data to travel from the remote server to you.
Proxies will also compress traffic, resulting in bandwidth savings.
- Better Online Security
Proxies help provide better online security by:-
- Sieving or filtering content coming in and out of your browser
- Encrypting data to keep it safe from prying eyes
- Hiding your IP address, hackers cannot track your online activities
- Allowing for online monitoring of internet usage. It is a popular option for companies and educational institutions. You can block specific sites that you deem harmful
- Blocking ads that may have malicious code.
- Access to Restricted Content and Web Scraping
It has been a long day, and you want to unwind by watching the latest movie. However, when you click on the link, it shows that the content is not available in your geographic location. Geo-blocking is a common practice that companies use to control who gets access to their products.
Your work may entail a lot of data use and research. However, some sites may see repeated requests from the same IP address as suspicious. They may end up blocking you, thus impacting your work.
The same applies to managing multiple social media accounts. Most platforms will place restrictions on the number of accounts per address.
In the cases above, hiding your IP with a proxy will help you circumvent the restrictions. The remote servers will not be able to pinpoint your exact location.
It is our sincere hope that by now, you have a good understanding of what proxies are. You get privacy while browsing online. Other benefits include content filtering and data encryption for better security. You also get access to content that may not be available in your geographic location.
It is important to understand what you need well before you go shopping for one. Next, do your research well to understand exactly what features you will be getting. Finally, read customer reviews before making a final decision.