In the simplest of terms, A proxy server is a gate that separates your computer and the Internet. Meaning, when you type a URL, instead of searching for it on the Internet, Your request will first go through a proxy server and then, to the Internet.
It acts as a secure gate between your computer and the internet. And, it requests queries on your behalf. But, instead of your computer’s ip-address, the proxy server’s ip address is shown to request the query.
Think of it this way, you are looking to order a product via an eCommerce store. Instead,you get your cousin to do it for you. This way, it represents your cousin to be the immediate buyer and your identity is hidden.
And, if we consider this same case on the Internet, a computer’s identity is its ip-address and the same ip-address is associated with your computer when you ask the queries on the Internet.
But, with a proxy server in between, you could securely request the same queries on behalf of the server’s ip-address.
Speaking of an ip-address, you could refer to What is an IP-Address to understand how it works.
How does a proxy server work?
Normally, when you are on the Internet, the communication takes place between two devices. A Client (your computer) and a host/server (other computers on the Internet).
Now, consider your computer(client)’s ip address to be 192.168.0.1 and the host/server’s ip-address to be 001.002.3.4. Which you usually don’t know and use a domain name to communicate. And, when you request a query, the query is directly between the client and the host.
Here, the client understands the details about the host and the host collects relevant data such your ip-address for multiple reasons and knows the direct route over the internet to your computer.
But, with a proxy in between, it’s a three-step communication method. A proxy server acts as a mediator where your computer knows its address and trusts it to be secure.
Instead of directly requesting with the host, it will first send the query to the proxy server as your computer trusts it over the host.
And, this proxy server asks the query to the host using its own ip-address. Once done, the host will send the information to the proxy server and it will push it back to you. This way, your ip-address over the internet is secure.
Why does a proxy server matter?
For starters, it allows an end-user to privately access the Internet. But, on a wider scale, it is much more important for brands to use a proxy server.
It allows you to secure your Internet route:
When you are building a digital brand, it is important for you to keep a check on your commercial internet logs wherein you’d not want any malware to infect your company’s digital space. And, you could use a proxy server to block all the requests to all the shady and harmful websites on the Internet. It would improve your network security on a huge scale.
It allows you to log your Internet route:
Organizations use proxy servers as a protective measure for their employees to perform better. With a check-log in the game, the company could monitor their employees’ browsing queries via the company’s internet network to keep a check and maintain a work discipline.
It decreases the loading time:
You could use your proxy-server to cache the websites that need to be visited frequently to decrease the loading time and help employees to get faster access to the required resources.
For example, if your company uses Google Drive for storage, your proxy server would cache the website to load it faster the next time you visit it.
It disables direct ip-access:
Directly accessing a website using its ip-address has its own set of issues. For starters, it increases the chances to encounter a DDOS attack. And, using a proxy server , you could disable the users to directly access your website using its ip-address.