What Is a Proxy Server, and How It Works?

Raji Oluwaniyi  - Tech Expert
Last updated: November 25, 2023
Read time: 16 minutes
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Read this article to discover what is a proxy server, how set it up, and its advantages and disadvantages.

THE TAKEAWAYS

Have you ever heard of proxy servers but are unsure what they are or what they really do? Dive into this article to discover what a proxy server is, its pros and cons, and how to set it up.

A proxy server is a router or system that links an internet user and the internet. It is a technology that masks users’ IP addresses and hides their online identity and location. The primary aim of a proxy is to ensure that users’ data traffic cannot be traced back to them.

Other benefits include access to geo-restricted content on the internet and online security. However, it has drawbacks—a proxy server does not provide 100% security nor guarantees online anonymity.

Continue reading this article to learn more about how proxy servers work, their safety, and the different kinds.

How does a proxy work?

A proxy server is an intermediary between your local device or network and a broader network—usually the Internet. It is an external server, often introducing an additional step in the connection process.

When you connect to the internet directly (without a proxy server), your data traffic moves directly from your device to the global network. As you load a website, the data moves from your device to your internet service provider’s (ISP) router before moving to the requested website’s server. The site’s response also follows the same route back to your device.

But when you connect to a proxy server, your data traffic moves through a different route. First, you connect your device to the proxy server. Then, the proxy sends your request to the requested destination online. The proxy server hides your IP address from other websites during this process. Instead of your IP address, they see the proxy’s IP.

Generally, proxy servers transport data through a special data tunnel. However, proxies have additional functionalities. For example, a proxy provides extra online security.