How Do Proxy Servers Work?

The use of a proxy server is not a must, but it has some advantages that become apparent with different user behavior. By interposing a proxy server, the actual origin of the request, i.e. the identity and location of the user, can be concealed.

Basics of the function

The way it works is based on three essential elements that work closely together to ensure that requests are processed quickly and purposefully:

  • IP address
  • Port
  • Protocol

Every device that can access the internet has its own IP address. This consists of four numerical sequences. Each sequence is separated from the next by a period (e.g. 123.123.123.123).

Pic.2.1: IP address

These sequences of numbers are called octets in technical parlance. Laptops, routers, servers, telephones and numerous other devices, such as printers, have their own address that is connected only to this device. The IP address allows you to find out a geographical location, the provider and much more.

The port can be compared to a door in a house, equating the house with the respective device. Communication with other devices is enabled through the door. The port is set as a numeric value behind the IP address, separated by a colon (e.g. 123.123.123.123 : 8080).

Pic.2.2: IP address and port

The language of communication between devices is called protocol. It can also be a format. The most important and at the same time best known formats are HTTP and SOCKS. There are also other protocols, but they are rarely used.

Pic.2.3: Proxy protocols

Procedure for requests to the proxy server

The Internet user is referred to as the client for such requests. The client sends a request when trying to open an internet page. The IP address of the user is transmitted for identification purposes. The request is sent to the server, which can access the content.

In response, the requested information is sent back to the IP address, i.e. to the PC or other internet-enabled device. However, the proxy server is not the destination server. Therefore, the proxy server can also be seen as a middleman, since it mediates between the internet enabled device and the target server.

Pic.2.4:

Accordingly, the request is made in two moves. In practice, this means that the request is sent to the proxy server with its own IP address. The proxy server then forwards the request with its IP address to the relevant server. In response, the information, i.e. the content of the page, is sent back to the proxy server, which then forwards it to the client.

The location of the proxy server has no influence on its function and concrete procedure. However, the information on the pages varies according to the IP address of the proxy server. Each country has different regulations and restrictions, which are observed accordingly. The communication of the different devices can be different. But the basic procedure remains the same for all devices.

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