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What is a proxy?

Posted on 2002-05-27
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Last Modified: 2010-04-11
Hi!

What is a proxy? What is it used for?

Thanks.
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Question by:ornicar
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oveRRide earned 100 total points
ID: 7038530
In an enterprise that uses the Internet, a proxy server is a server that acts as an intermediary between a workstation user and the Internet so that the enterprise can ensure security, administrative control, and caching service. A proxy server is associated with or part of a gateway server that separates the enterprise network from the outside network and a firewall server that protects the enterprise network from outside intrusion.
 
A proxy server receives a request for an Internet service (such as a Web page request) from a user. If it passes filtering requirements, the proxy server, assuming it is also a cache server, looks in its local cache of previously downloaded Web pages. If it finds the page, it returns it to the user without needing to forward the request to the Internet. If the page is not in the cache, the proxy server, acting as a client on behalf of the user, uses one of its own IP addresses to request the page from the server out on the Internet. When the page is returned, the proxy server relates it to the original request and forwards it on to the user.

An advantage of a proxy server is that its cache can serve all users. If one or more Internet sites are frequently requested, these are likely to be in the proxy's cache, which will improve user response time. In fact, there are special servers called cache servers. A proxy can also do logging.

The functions of proxy, firewall, and caching can be in separate server programs or combined in a single package. Different server programs can be in different computers. For example, a proxy server may in the same machine with a firewall server or it may be on a separate server and forward requests through the firewall
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by:samri
ID: 7038620
in not-technical term - it's like a middle-man. :)
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by:ornicar
ID: 7042577
Thats makes sense, so I have some kind of proxy with my adsl lan modem. I had to give a proxy address and by guessing the IP of this modem, it worked. It has firewall, but no caching facilities.
On other hand, can I call my modem a proxy?
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by:samri
ID: 7050210
Uumm.. maybe yes and NO.

A modem is just a device to do signal conversion (MOdulalation DEModulation - i hope I got the term right).  Nowadays, most hardware manufacturer tend to put everything in one box.  Simplification.

It does helped end-user alot.  But again, there are limitation, just like you mentioned; Your box has some proxy capability, but lack of caching.

In most cases (personal opinion), these kind of box would have been called "internet station", "NAT box", and yes, I believe it could be called a "proxy server" too.

I hope this help.
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by:ornicar
ID: 7437820
Sorry for being late
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