If you want to protect your privacy online, one of the simplest ways to do that is through the use of a proxy server. It effectively serves as a gateway between you and the internet. When using a proxy server, the details of the websites you visit and other online history is saved to that server, rather than to your computer.
This allows for a degree of anonymous surfing that comes with a warning that proxy servers will often save at least some of your details. Although this is unlikely a concern for most people, we should now start educating one another regarding the benefit of proxy servers.
Proxy servers provide a useful and basic way to avoid the extensive advertiser tracking and routine privacy intrusions that are now commonly happening online. Web proxies protect your privacy and also help avoid restrictions. Such restrictions may be imposed by a government, workplace, school, or others. In any case, a web proxy helps make the internet as free and anonymous as it should be.
What is a proxy?
By definition, a proxy server is any type of computer or service that allows a person to access sites or services remotely. They act as a middleman between your network and your end destination. People commonly use them to access specific files, attachments, or downloads.
It is an instrument between the user and the web that adds an additional layer whenever the user connects to any website. Proxies have their own IP addresses which the website the user is visiting will only see and not the user’s real IP address.
Proxy servers are extremely popular in countries with heavy censorship of the internet such as China, where people use them to bypass the Great Firewall and access sites like Facebook, Google, and YouTube without restriction. Because you’re able to change your IP address when you go through a proxy, you’re essentially able to browse the web as if you were in a different location.
According to most users, proxies are a useful tool for unblocking content, but not so great if a person wants to boost their online security.
How does a proxy work?
Essentially, a proxy acts as a gateway between your browser and specific sites and services you’re accessing.
When your browser sends data to a specific website, the information contained within the data packet goes through a third-party server before it reaches its destination. Normally, a site would verify your IP address before assigning – and loading – a specific page or service, but with a proxy server the verification goes through a third-party.
An easy way to picture this is to think about how Google determines which domain to load based on a person’s location. If someone in the UK types ‘Google’ into their search bar, they’ll automatically be redirected to the google.co.uk domain.
When you use a proxy, you’re able to change your IP address, which in turn dictates which sites you’ll be able to access. This way, proxy servers make it possible to access the web without broadcasting your IP address, but the proxy owner will be able to see your real IP.
Proxies wouldn’t be our first recommendation for people who want to protect their privacy and stay safe online. Based on research and own experiences, VPNs still do a better job than proxies when it comes to your safety online. Web proxies especially the free ones can be considered as a convenient option but we would only suggest it for temporary use.