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February 22, 2024

The term “proxy” refers to the fact that a proxy or proxy server. It is an application which acts as a mediator between a client and server via the internet. Without the need for a proxy, a user could submit a request for the resource directly to a server and the server will provide direct access to that resource. Although this method is easy to understand and apply using proxy servers, it could provide benefits in terms of better performance, privacy, security, and much more. As an additional layer of passing through, proxies serve as a security safeguard for the internet between servers and clients.

In general, the combined combination of server hardware and proxy software is often called proxy servers. This article will focus on proxies which are usually described as software as being used in conjunction with web servers. The article will provide an explanation of the two types: namely a forward proxy and reverse proxy. reverse proxy. Each kind of proxy has its own scenario, which is often not understood due to the identical namesake convention.

This article will provide you with the basics of what subtypes and proxies are and what they can accomplish in common configurations. After reading this article, you’ll be able to determine the situations in which using proxies can be beneficial, and choose the best choice between forward proxy and reverse proxy for any particular scenario.

Understanding Forward Proxies

Forward proxy also referred to in the context of an open proxy is a proxy for the user looking to transmit an internet request to a server. In this scenario, the entire attempt to send requests from the client will instead be routed via the forward proxy. Forward proxy acting in place of the client will scrutinize the request. It will first determine if the client is authorized to submit requests via this particular forward proxy. It will then refuse requests or redirect them to the server that originally made the request. The client does not have direct access to the internet. It can access only the information that the forward proxy permits it to access.

The primary reason for people to use forward proxy is to increase security or privacy when surfing the web. The forward proxy is connected to the internet instead of the client, and in this manner, it utilizes an IP address distinct from the IP address that the user is using.

Based on how it has been configured, the forward proxy will offer various functions based upon the way it’s configured, which permits you to:

  • Beware of Ad-trackers.

  • Circumvent surveillance.

  • Find restrictions that are based on your location.

Forward proxies are also employed in systems that offer central security and access based on permissions like in workplaces. If all internet traffic is routed through an open forward proxy, an administrator is able to restrict access to a limited number of users to the internet. This is blocked by the standard firewall. Instead of creating firewalls at the client layer, which can comprise multiple computers with different settings and users the firewall can be set up at the layer which forwards proxy traffic.

Be aware that forward proxy servers require manual configuration to use and reverse proxies could be overlooked by the client. Depending on the type IP address the user, it is sent to the server from which it originated by the forward proxy privacy and anonymity can be granted or kept in the dark.

There are a variety of alternatives to think about in the case of forward proxy options:

  • Apache is a well-known open-source web server that provides forward proxy features.

  • Nginx: Another well-known open-source web server that comes with the ability to forward-proxy.

  • Squid is an open source forward proxy that utilizes an HTTP protocol. It doesn’t come with the full webserver system. We have a tutorial on how you can install Squid proxy to permit private connections in Ubuntu 20.04.

  • Dante Forward proxy that utilizes the SOCKS protocol instead of HTTP which makes it more to handle situations like peer-to-peer traffic. You can also learn how to configure Dante proxy to permit private connections in Ubuntu 20.04

Understanding Reverse Proxies

Reverse proxy is acting as an agent on behalf of a web server that handles requests from clients on behalf of. The web server could be a single server or a number of servers. It could also serve in the role of an application server for instance Gunicorn. The request will be made through the internet generally. Most of the time requests will then be sent straight to the webserver that hosts the information that the user is looking for. Reverse proxy acts as an intermediary and separates the webserver from direct interaction with the open internet.

From the viewpoint of the user, the experience of using reverse proxy isn’t any different from interacting with your webserver directly. It’s basically the same, but the client can’t discern the distinction. The client makes an order for an item and gets it without any additional configuration needed from the user.

Reverse proxy providers provide features like:

  • Security centralized for web servers.

  • The direction of traffic that is coming in is determined by rules you can set up.

  • The caching function has been added to the app.

While central security is a benefit of both reverse and forward proxy servers. However, reverse proxy services provide this benefit to only the server layer and not to the client layer. instead of the maintenance of firewalls that are on the layer of web servers which may comprise several servers with various configurations, the bulk of firewall security is centered on the reverse proxy layer. Furthermore, taking the burden of interacting with firewalls and dealing with requests from clients without web servers lets them concentrate on the requirements of their customers.

In the event that there’s a multitude of servers operating in a reverse proxy, the reverse proxy is responsible for the direction of which requests are directed towards which servers. There could be multiple web servers that provide the same service, but each offering different kinds of resources or a combination of both. They may use the HTTP protocol to serve as a standard web server, however they may also be equipped with protocols for application servers like FastCGI. There is the possibility to set up reverse proxy servers to direct users to specific servers according to the requested resource, or to adhere to certain rules regarding the load of traffic.

Reverse proxies also benefit from their position on top of web servers, as they have the capability to store data. Large static assets can be created with caching rules to avoid the web server from being hit with each request. Certain solutions allow the delivery of static files directly without having to connect to a web server in any way. Additionally reverse proxy has the capability to handle compressing these assets.

The well-known Nginx web server can also function as a well-known reverse proxy option. Although Apache has a reverse proxy service however, the Apache web server has a reverse proxy capabilities as an extra option for Apache and Nginx was initially designed for and focused specifically on reverse proxy features.

Differentiating the use of forward and reverse proxy Examples

Since “forward” and “reverse” are often associated with an impression of directionality, and false comparisons with “incoming” and “outgoing” traffic could be confusing because both kinds of proxy servers handle requests and responses. An alternative approach to distinguish between reverse and forward proxy is to consider the requirements of the application you’re developing.

A reverse proxy can be beneficial in the creation of a solution to provide web-based applications over the internet. They act as your web server when you are on the internet.

Forward proxy can be beneficial when it is placed in front of customers for personal use, or in a workplace. Forward proxy is a representation of the client’s activity when you use the internet.

A case-based approach to distinction instead of using common naming conventions can aid in avoidance of confusion.


The article delineated the definition of a proxy using two types of proxy that are forward and reverse proxy. Examples of practical use and a discussion of most beneficial features were used to distinguish between reverse and forward proxies. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits for proxy servers you can read our tutorial on how to configure Nginx as an Internet server and reverse proxy to Apache on the Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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