Proxy servers serve many functions, most of which boil down to privacy or performance. Some people use them to surf the web privately. Others use them in businesses to accomplish tasks such as controlling the websites that employees access while at work. Proxy servers, however, can do more than you think.
Why Use a Proxy Server?
Proxy servers act as middlemen between the internet and your device. They communicate with websites and internet servers on your device’s behalf, meaning that every request or response sent to you by a website has to pass through the proxy server. Besides this function, proxy servers can be of service in other ways, some of which we list below.
Hide Your Location
Whenever you use a proxy server to browse the internet, the server hides your actual IP address and displays the proxy’s IP. Every IP address contains information about your ISP provider and location details such as your country, city, and ZIP code.
By displaying a different IP address, the proxy tricks the website you want to access into thinking that you are in a different location other than your actual one. Any hacker or ISP provider tracking your IP location won’t be able to find it.
Access Geo-Restricted Content
Some websites, applications, and games restrict access to people living in a specific region or location. They do so by checking a user’s device location, as highlighted on the IP address and deciding whether to grant access or not.
Proxy servers can help bypass this restriction by changing your IP address to the desired one. This function makes them handy for accessing geo-restricted content, and it’s what allows you to watch restricted movies online or access e-commerce products only available to specific regions.
Improve Surfing Speed and Performance
Proxy servers can speed up your internet browsing activity by caching web pages you visit habitually. Caching enables the proxy to detect and store frequently visited webpages and serve them faster whenever you submit search requests to those same pages. It allows your device to save on bandwidth and process requests and responses quicker.
Proxy servers can also work in tandem with bots to automate and speed up online purchases. For example, you can use them for Target shopping, buy limited-edition sneakers, or whenever you are interested in high-demand items. Arming yourself with these servers will ensure you don’t face disappointment when purchasing items.
Browse Privately and Anonymously
Proxy servers help keep your online identity private and anonymous, meaning that other websites won’t be able to track or monitor your internet activities. They also won’t know your actual IP location since the server masks it with another IP address. Hackers won’t be able to identify your IP address and thus cannot retrieve nor steal any of your confidential data. Your IP address remains anonymous and browsing activities stay private.
Control Internet Surfing
Many organizations use proxy servers to prevent employees from accessing unauthorized or inappropriate websites. They also use them to monitor and record employees’ online activities and thus deter them from doing anything unauthorized or illegal on the web.
Proxy servers help control internet access by inspecting the requests sent by a device and then rejecting or passing them forward based on the set criteria. When you have a proxy server, every request sent to the internet from your device has to pass through it. The proxy then forwards it to the desired website and receives a response on your device’s behalf. If you set criteria to restrict access to certain websites, the proxy server will halt the request and not forward it to the desired webpage.
You can also use proxy servers to restrict your children from accessing certain websites, such as social media and adult websites. By filtering their online activity, you can monitor and control what your kids see.
As you can see, using a proxy server is not illegal. It simply depends on what you want to do with it. As a rule of thumb, you want to go for a proxy server geared for your specific function. It is also advisable to avoid free proxies as they may slow your internet speed connection and put your device at risk of malware invasion.