I think the Internet is a blessing to the twenty-first century. It fixes us with people all over the world. It allows us to view information that we would otherwise be unable to read. Using it is probably easier than “easy as pie”. And one of the things that helps us access the Internet, is the proxy server.

A proxy server is something like an link between the computer you are using and the server that you are trying to access. This concept becomes easier to understand once you grasp its process of working. Suppose there is a website that is accessed repeatedly from a particular computer. This site gets saved in the cache of the proxy server. As a result, when someone else tries to view that website, the page is pulled up from this cache.

The advantage of this style of functioning is that the process is made quicker. This is because the proxy server can do without contacting the real server of that website to view it. The site has already been placed in the proxy server’s cache.

Web proxies are proxy servers that limit their job to the web. Sometimes web proxies are used to bar websites that are provocative or offensive. They also serve another, perhaps more important, function of blocking viruses that may be present on the webpages that are being read. In fact, a number of organizations make use of proxy servers to perform these very functions. A company could even bar its employees from viewing a particular website by making use of a proxy server. Notably, the user may not be conscious that there is the proxy server.

There are many other kinds of proxy servers that are seen in the web world. These include transparent proxies, split proxies and reverse proxies. Open proxies are proxy servers that are widely used by spammers and Internet Relay Chat users.

There is also something called an anonymous proxy server. This helps in supplying anonymity, and hence, privacy, to the user. It does this by hiding the IP address of the user. As a result, the number of junk mails and spam that one would otherwise be abounding in are diminished significantly. It is good to use an anonymous proxy server because it keeps you protected from hackers.

If all this interests you, you could find out lots more about proxies on the Internet. But the next time you are able to quickly access your favorite webpage, remember that your invisible friend — the proxy server — is at work!