What Is a Forward Proxy: All You Need to Know
When someone mentions a proxy server, more often than not, they’re referring to a forward proxy. What exactly are these proxies? How do they work? Also, who uses them and for what purpose?
How Do Forward Proxies Work
A forward proxy provides a proxy service to one or more clients. Whenever a client attempts to connect to any online server, the request has to go through a forward proxy first. It replaces the client’s IP address with its own, providing anonymity and other useful features.
Depending on the proxy’s settings, it can allow or deny that request. If allowed, this request is forwarded to the destination server. From that server’s perspective, the request came from the proxy instead of the client. Hence, the destination server sends a response back to the proxy, which in turn forwards it to the client.
In other words, a forward proxy server acts as your online traffic middleman. It handles all your requests and also receives the responses and forwards them to your device.
Types of Forward Proxies
The most common way to classify a forward proxy is by its origin, and we can split them into two key types:
- Residential proxy
These proxy servers come from genuine residential devices (computers, laptops, phones, tablets) with a physical location connected to the internet through an internet service provider (ISP). They have the highest IP trust scores since they’re indistinguishable from real internet users.
- Datacenter proxy
Unlike residential proxies, these come from other sources, such as data centers and cloud services. They’re faster and cheaper than residential proxies, but their IP trust score is not that high because they’re not associated with real devices and ISPs.
If you’re interested in other differences between these two proxy types, check out this video:
From here, we can categorize them based on their purpose, privacy level, connection protocol, authentication, and more.
Who Uses Forward Proxies and Why
There are many reasons a business or an individual would want to use a forward proxy. Replacing your IP address with another one (often in a different location) has many benefits. Here are the most common ones:
- Anonymous internet access
A forward proxy is essentially an extra security layer that keeps your IP address hidden from the internet. In other words, you can access the internet anonymously and ensure your online activity stays private.
- Avoiding geo-restrictions
Certain online content is only available to users in specific countries. In other words, the content you can access is based on your IP address. By using a forward proxy from a different location, you can access geo-restricted websites, streaming platforms, apps, and more.
- Efficient web scraping
Web scraping is the most popular enterprise usage scenario for forward proxies. The internet is full of useful information, and gathering it manually takes a lot of time and effort. That’s why countless businesses, researchers, and data analysts automate the process. However, sending too many requests from a single IP address quickly gets it blocked. Forward proxies make these requests look like they come from different devices in different locations, providing reliable and accurate data.
In conclusion, hiding your IP address with a forward proxy can be beneficial in many different scenarios. They can provide anonymity, bypass geo-restrictions, and also improve data-gathering efforts. If you’re looking to learn more about web scraping, automation, and proxy features, check out our other blogs!