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Reverse Proxy vs. Forward Proxy. A Detailed Comparison!

Oleg Kulyk

Oleg Kulyk

Co-Founder @ ScrapingAnt

Reverse Proxy vs. Forward Proxy. A Detailed Comparison!

Using proxy servers is crucial in today's world. As the Internet has become a part of our daily life and is integrated into almost everything, it is quintessential to use it while maintaining privacy and security.

Data leaks and personal information breaches are more serious than most people think. So using measures to browse and use the internet with security is a must. Using proxy and VPNs is one of the best ways of ensuring online safety. So today, we shall teach you details about reverse proxy vs. forward proxy and much more. Let’s begin.

What Is a Proxy?#

When people say proxy, they mean a server connected to clients in a network. It acts like the middle man between the user and the server they are trying to access. There are two kinds of proxies: forward proxy and reverse proxies. Despite both of them being proxies, they have differences as well.

Whenever any client connected to a proxy server makes any request on the Internet to other websites, the proxy server takes over and places those requests on behalf of the users. Now you might be wondering why people do that. Let me explain:

Why Use a Proxy?#

People use proxies for the following reasons:

To bypass restricted content:#

A lot of content on the Internet is inaccessible. Whether it is due to geographical location or political reasons, many necessary websites and Internet content may be blocked off or have restricted usage in your region. Using a proxy server solves that as it can mask your IP and change your geographical location.

Restrict Content:#

Many companies and organizations use servers to restrict content from their PCs. They do so for many reasons, for example,

  • To restrict sensitive content, a company may block off politically sensitive content to prevent workplace political discussions.
  • To block explicit content, a school may block off pornographic content to prevent students from accessing those sites from their school labs.
  • To increase productivity, workplace computers may be restricted from using social media, YouTube, Reddit, etc., to prevent employees from wasting company time on entertainment.

For security:#

Using proxy servers is a great way to ensure safety online. For example, proxy servers allow anonymous Internet usage. It can easily hide your IP and location, saving workplace PCs from attacks from hackers, viruses, and bots.

Besides those, there are a lot of other reasons for using proxies. But these are the most common reasons.

What Is a Forward Proxy?#

When people use the term proxy, they are usually referring to forward proxy. It is one of the most commonly used proxy methods by both big and small organizations. Let's see how forward proxies work:

How Does Forward Proxy Work?#

To better understand how forward proxies work, let’s look at the steps below:

  • First, a client’s device attempts to connect to another server on the Internet.
  • The request then goes to the proxy server.
  • Depending on the protocols, the request is either accepted or rejected in case of restrictions.
  • If approved, the proxy server forwards that request through the Internet to the destination server on the client device’s behalf.
  • To the destination server, the request it receives will appear as if it were made by the proxy server and not the clients directly.

What Are the Benefits of Forward Proxies?#

Forward proxies are used for a wide array of uses.

  • To access restricted content
  • To maintain anonymity
  • To protect privacy and data breaches
  • Web scraping

Why Use Forward Proxy?#

  • Filtering content on the Internet
  • Security
  • To translate network addresses
  • To prevent direct access
  • To relay requests

What Is a Reverse Proxy?#

A reverse proxy server is a server that receives requests from clients and client servers and forwards them to their web servers. They work the opposite way as forward servers; hence they are named reverse proxies. There are two kinds of reverse proxies.

  • Regular: Regular reverse proxies are servers that relay requests between clients and file servers.
  • Load Balancer: This type of reverse server connects multiple servers to serve a client’s request. They distribute a load of requests evenly between all available servers to lighten the overall load from falling on one server only. This drastically increases speed and performance.

Let's see how reverse proxy servers work.

How Does Reverse Proxy Work?#

To better understand how reverse proxy works, let's look at the process below:

  • First, the client sends a request to access a website.
  • The reverse proxy server receives the requests and decides whether to allow them.
  • If it is allowed and approved, the server then connects the file servers to access those files or websites.
  • It ensures that clients don’t and can’t access the file servers directly.

While forward servers maintain security, anonymity, and other miscellaneous uses, reverse servers serve different purposes. Let's see.

What Are the Benefits of Reverse Proxy?#

  • To balance traffic and request loads
  • To cache data
  • To maintain anonymity
  • To establish security
  • To maintain privacy

Why Use Reverse Proxies?#

  • To create a firewall
  • To cache content and websites
  • To relay requests
  • To protect servers from attacks
  • SSL encryption

Reverse Proxy vs. Forward Proxy:#

The Differences:#

Reverse ProxyForward Proxy
Connected to file serversConnected to client devices
Receives requests from client devicesSend requests from client devices
Blocks servers from sending dataBlocks clients from receiving or accessing data
Used mainly for load balancingUsed mainly for maintaining anonymity
Supports application deliveryDoesn’t support application delivery
Restricts direct access to file servers from outside the networkRestricts users from accessing content

The Similarities:#

  • They both handle requests.
  • They control traffic.
  • They allow or restrict access to resources and content.
  • They offer a layer of security.
  • They act as an intermediary between clients and hosts.

Answering Some FAQs#

What is load balancing?#

Load balancing is the act of distributing traffic evenly among hosts. It is done to lighten individual loads and to prevent certain servers from overexerting themselves.

What is IP?#

IP or IP address is the address of your device on the Internet. It is different from physical and geographical addresses.

What is GSLB?#

GSLB stands for global server load balancing.

What is SSL encryption?#

SSL stands for secure sockets layer, and reverse proxies do its encryption.

Final Words#

Despite being servers, forward and reverse proxy have differences. Now that you better understand these differences, we hope you’ll be able to put this information to good use so you can benefit from my explanation. Thanks!

Happy Web Scraping, and don't forget to check the legal aspects of obtained proxies 👤💰

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