You may have heard the term proxy server being used by people who are familiar with information technology and the internet and you may be wondering what they are talking about. Well what a proxy server does is that it handles client’s request for services from another computer. The client sends a request to the proxy server and the proxy server in turn requests the services desired from the requested computer. In a way the proxy server acts as an intermediary for handling requests from clients to access other servers on the network.
There are a number of places where proxy servers are used to handle client requests. An Internet service provider has a proxy server that receives requests to access different pages from the Internet and it searches the Internet for the pages and then allows the client to access them. There are many different scenarios in which proxy servers are used.
The most common use of the proxy server is as a caching server. It stores frequently requested pages of the Internet and when another client sends a request it will send the stored page to the client. For example a number of users request Google, Yahoo or MSN. The proxy server retains these pages in its memory bank and whenever a client sends a request it displays the page from its memory bank.
A proxy server may also be used to filter out certain websites and not allow the clients to access them. In such a scenario it acts as the first line of defense against accessing sites which are banned. Educational institutions and some organizations use proxy servers to limit access of the users to the Internet. Proxy servers are also use to filter content from the Internet and in this way they provide protection against viruses and malware.
A proxy server speeds up access to the Internet as they hold information off a lot of sites in their memory banks. It’s only when a client needs to download any information from a website that the proxy server will send the request to the server and allows the client to download the information from the requested server.
There are several ways in which proxy servers are configured to perform different functions. But the basic concept of the proxy server always remains the same, which is to act as an intermediary between a client and servers on the Internet.