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In computer networks, a proxy server is a server (a computer system or an application) that acts as an intermediary for requests from clients seeking resources from other servers. A client connects to the proxy server, requesting some service, such as a file, connection, web page, or other resource available from a different server and the proxy server evaluates the request as a way to simplify and control its complexity. Today, most proxies are web proxies, facilitating access to content on the World Wide Web.
A proxy server has a variety of potential purposes, including:
To keep machines behind it anonymous, mainly for security.
To speed up access to resources (using caching). Web proxies are commonly used to cache web pages from a web server.
To prevent downloading the same content multiple times (and save bandwidth).
To log / audit usage, e.g. to provide company employee Internet usage reporting.
To scan transmitted content for malware before delivery.
To scan outbound content, e.g., for data loss prevention.
To bypass website restrictions at work.
To apply access policy to network services or content, e.g. to block undesired sites.
To access sites prohibited or filtered by your ISP or institution.
To bypass security / parental controls.
To circumvent Internet filtering to access content otherwise blocked by governments.
To allow a web site to make web requests to externally hosted resources (e.g. images, music files, etc.) when cross-domain restrictions prohibit the web site from linking directly to the outside domains.
To allow the browser to make web requests to externally hosted content on behalf of a website when cross-domain restrictions (in place to protect websites from the likes of data theft) prohibit the browser from directly accessing the outside domains.
Types of proxy
A proxy server may run right on the user's local computer, or at various points between the user's computer and destination servers on the Internet.
A proxy server that passes requests and responses unmodified is usually called a gateway or sometimes a tunneling proxy.
A forward proxy is an Internet-facing proxy used to retrieve from a wide range of sources (in most cases anywhere on the Internet).
A reverse proxy is usually an Internet-facing proxy used as a front-end to control and protect access to a server on a private network, commonly also performing tasks such as load-balancing, authentication, decryption or caching.
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