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Various Functions of a Proxy Server

When you strip down a proxy server to its bare essentials, it is simply a computer that acts as an intermediary on the behalf of the clients and provides them access to the resources on a server. However, that is not the only function performed by a proxy server. Companies use it for caching resources that are accessed frequently, for authenticating users, and for scanning inbound and outbound traffic. Individuals also utilize proxy servers for safeguarding their online activities. In recent times, proxies have become a very popular medium for ‘anonymous’ browsing.

Terms associated with proxy servers

There are various technical terms associated with proxy servers. People either have no knowledge about these terms or misunderstand them completely. Caching, transparent, intercept, and anonymous are some of these terms. Among them, the most commonly used is ‘transparent’. Most people assume that a proxy server that intercepts client connections without using any specific browser settings is called a transparent proxy. In fact, the correct name for such proxies is intercept proxies. Transparent is the name given to proxies that to do not change the response or the request.

Trying to figure out all the terms can take some time. So, you should just keep in mind that the proxy server is either configured by changing the settings on your browser or the traffic from your system is routed directly to the proxy without any settings. In corporate setups, the browser settings are locked so that users cannot bypass the proxy.

Now that you know the basics of a proxy server and how it is used, take a look at some of its useful functions.


Caching in a proxy server is not very different from caching in a browser. However, a browser operates for a single user whereas a proxy server works for all the users on a network. When you access a particular page numerous times, the server saves the page. The next time the same page is requested, the server sends the cached copy instead of fetching the copy from the web.

There are two main advantages of caching, one is that the latency reduces and the second is that the network bandwidth is utilized in an optimum manner. The latter part can be very useful for companies who have a limited bandwidth but a large employee base.

Secure browsing

Online security is a major concern as the number of identity thefts issues are increasing at an alarming rate. Your IP address is the first thing a cyber criminal looks for. Your IP address will tell someone not only about your physical location, but also about your browsing data. Proxy servers help you in masking the IP to prevent any tracking online.

Preventing data loss and malware scanning

Earlier, companies used to be concerned about the data that was entering their network. In recent times, the trend has changed as companies are worried about the data that leaves the network. There are products for data loss prevention which work with a proxy server and inspect the outgoing traffic for classified information.

When you scan for malware in FTP or HTTP traffic, it is not very difficult from a normal virus scan on a server. There are proxy servers which actually offload this functionality to a different device and then use Internet Content Adaptation Protocol (ICAP) for communication.

These are only some of the functions performed by a proxy server. As you can see there are numerous corporate uses, but it can also be used by individuals to bypass internet restrictions imposed by the internet service provider (ISP), the government, or their company.

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