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Learn about Proxy Servers and Proxy IP Addresses.

What is a Proxy?

A proxy, or proxy server, is a web server that makes requests for web pages for you. You access websites through a proxy server by setting your browser to use the proxy server’s IP address. When the request reaches the website you want to view, the website sees the request coming from the proxy, instead of from you.

Proxy servers are not only used for surfing the web. They can be used for any transmission of information using the Internet. Proxy servers can be used for email, file transfers, or any other piece of data. Essentially, proxies are more of a method of viewing the web through a third party provider.

Proxy Server Diagram

Why would I need a proxy?

Many people use them for security. Using proxies is one way to protect your identity while surfing the World Wide Web. Protection, however, is not always guaranteed. Remember that proxy servers see all data that is transmitted from your computer to the rest of the Internet. Also, these servers tend to leave some information in the wep page request – namely IP addresses.

When you enter a URL into our browser, you send a Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Request, or simply, HTTP. This information includes data about your home network, so that the website knows where to send the information to. Really secret proxies strip this information from the data in order to keep your information hidden. Others don’t- they simply forward the information you send and add their own.

Most people use proxy servers to hide the information they are viewing. For example, you may want to view a website without storing any history or cookie information on your machine. You may want to view Facebook at work. Others may be using a public Internet connection and don’t want others connected to the same network to “sniff” their browsing data. Other uses for proxies include preventing annoying advertisements or pop-ups from websites, anonymous search functions, encrypted communication, and hiding from hackers and network spies.

PureVPN - Internet Privacy is our Priority

What is a Web Proxy?

Web proxies are simply websites that serve web pages from other websites. Usually, web proxies are used to conceal the web pages an Internet user is viewing. For example, if you are not allowed to browse social networking sites while at work or at school, this may be an option. The only caveat to this is that many administrators block these websites as well. How do you find them? There are several web proxies available all over the Internet. A quick search on your favorite search engine should provide you with multiple options.

How does a web proxy work? Web proxies work by making web page requests for you, just like an ordinary proxy. The only difference is that every HTTP request made from you on the Internet goes to one place. That way, all of your web pages look like they come from the web proxy that you are using – not from the website you are really viewing. Since many network filters block websites merely by domain, this enables users to view websites and information that may be censored.

How to Connect to a Proxy Server

Web proxies generally require no configuration or setup. Websites such as this free web proxy are already configured and ready for browsing. Many of them allow users to type in a URL and browser. Others allow users to browse using a SSL, which increases the security of their browsing communication.

Other proxy servers require custom Internet settings. Users will have to configure the IP address and the port of the server they want to use.

How to Configure a Proxy IP in Windows

Legal Issues with Proxy IP Addresses

In some countries, such as China and Iran, it is illegal to use a proxy server when browsing the Internet. Currently, in the United States, it is perfectly legal to use proxies. However, web surfers in the U.S. should note a recent court dispute in California between Craigslist and 3Taps may provide legal precedence for the banning of proxies in the U.S.

You should also be aware that although it may be legal for you to use a proxy IP address when browsing the web, it may not be ethical. Use of proxies may by against company policy for employees or against your Internet Service Providers terms of use. Check with the appropriate people to verify that proxy use is ok.