What is a proxy server and how to connect to a proxy server?

A proxy server, as the name says, is an alternative or substitute server. It is a computer between a local network and a worldwide network – the internet.  Most of the internet service providers (ISPs) and large companies often employ proxy servers for their benefit. There are many advantages using a proxy server, from speeding up the traffic to filtering access to certain sites; from providing security to anonymity in browsing.

This technology has been developed over the past few years, and was lapped up instantly. Proxy technology has become synonymous with control over the internet access and faster browsing by virtue of ‘caching’ web pages. This is particularly beneficial for companies that want to regulate their employees’ browsing activities – so much so, to restrict access to select websites. With an efficient proxy server system, one can have a decent control over data movement: permission for logging in to sites, preventing unwanted users from getting in to the network, keeping a track of users’ activities.

There are several types of proxy servers.

Transparent Proxy

This proxy does not give anonymity to users. Moreover, it makes the IP address available.

Anonymous Proxy

This proxy gives considerable anonymity besides not giving out IP address.

Distorting Proxy

This projects an incorrect IP address.

High Anonymity Proxy

While the above three types identify themselves as proxy servers, this one will not do so. And, it will conceal the original IP address effectively.

Connecting to a proxy server

The browsers need to be configured in order to connect to proxy servers.

Internet Explorer 6.0

  1. Tools > Internet Options >Connections > LAN Settings.
  2. Proxy server> Use a proxy server for your LAN
  3. Address > enter the IP address of the proxy server.
  4. Enter port number (8080 is default) in the Port box
  5. Select Bypass proxy server for local addresses if you want to improve performance).
  6. Click OK

Firefox 3.0

  1. Tools Menu> Options> Advanced>Network>Connection>Settings
  2. Choose “Auto-Detect Proxy setting for this network” or “Manual Proxy Configuration”
  3. For “Manual Proxy Configuration” enter the IP address for the HTTP proxy server
  4. Enter the port of the HTTP proxy server
  5. Click OK