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When and why should you use a proxy server?

When and why should you use a proxy server?

A proxy server is a computer application that receives and transmits requests for information or resources from other servers. Whether you need a secure connection, a file, a piece of information or other support, a proxy service, such as the best VPN services, intermediates on your behalf. This protects your identity from the server you're seeking information or a connection from. 

What is a proxy server?

Proxy servers have taken privacy and security to new levels. As mentioned above, they enable you to browse the internet anonymously, which in itself introduces a host of pros and cons. With a proxy server you can securely access your favorite websites, or conduct aspects of your online business privately. But likewise, hackers can also roam undetected using a proxy server, which has led to genuine security concerns. 

Why should you use a proxy server?

There are a number of reasons why you would need a proxy server, all of which relate to privacy or your computer s performance. Here are some of the most common reasons you would need a proxy server:

To access websites anonymously
This is the most common use of a proxy server. If you are ever out of the country, you will soon realize that there are a number of websites and programs (such as video streaming applications) that you cannot access. This is because many governments restrict access to certain websites, and many online programs only adapt for certain countries. 

You can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to disguise your location and gain access to these restricted sites. A VPN essentially makes the server believe that you are in a different country, one that has unrestricted access. Hackers, criminals and others that need anonymity use such software to mask their identity on a regular basis.

When and why should you use a proxy server: A person uses a laptop to search online via a proxy server

(Image credit: Getty)

To filter content
You can use a proxy server to filter the web content on a specific computer. Parents find this especially useful for filtering what their children see. Schools find this useful for enforcing computer and web browsing policies.

To bypass filters
Proxy servers can also bypass existing filters. Usually, parents do not have to worry about children figuring out how to do this, unless, of course, their child is a computer whiz at an early age. People also use proxy servers to bypass government censorship.

To improve computer performance
On a more positive note, proxy servers can improve computer performance, particularly for large businesses. A caching proxy detects frequent requests and stores them so that your company does not have to use as much bandwidth the next time it receives the same request. This reduces usage and costs while accelerating the time it takes to process and save applications.

In order to keep your home computer or laptop as safe as possible, we'd recommend using the best internet security software, and you could also look at the best anti-virus software.