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A proxy server is an intermediary piece of hardware/software sitting between the client and the backend server. It receives requests from clients and relays them to the origin servers. Typically, proxies are used to filter requests, log requests, or sometimes transform requests (by adding/removing headers, encrypting/decrypting, or compression).


There are two types of proxies:

Forward Proxy

A forward proxy, often called a proxy, proxy server, or web proxy is a server that sits in front of a group of client machines. When those computers make requests to sites and services on the internet, the proxy server intercepts those requests and then communicates with web servers on behalf of those clients, like a middleman.



Here are some advantages of a forward proxy:

  • Block access to certain content
  • Allows access to geo-restricted content
  • Provides anonymity
  • Avoid other browsing restrictions

Although proxies provide the benefits of anonymity, they can still track our personal information. Setup and maintenance of a proxy server can be costly and requires configurations.

Reverse Proxy

A reverse proxy is a server that sits in front of one or more web servers, intercepting requests from clients. When clients send requests to the origin server of a website, those requests are intercepted by the reverse proxy server.

The difference between a forward and reverse proxy is subtle but important. A simplified way to sum it up would be to say that a forward proxy sits in front of a client and ensures that no origin server ever communicates directly with that specific client. On the other hand, a reverse proxy sits in front of an origin server and ensures that no client ever communicates directly with that origin server.


Introducing reverse proxy results in increased complexity. A single reverse proxy is a single point of failure, configuring multiple reverse proxies (i.e. a failover) further increases complexity.


Here are some advantages of using a reverse proxy:

  • Improved security
  • Caching
  • SSL encryption
  • Load balancing
  • Scalability and flexibility

Load balancer vs Reverse Proxy

Wait, isn't reverse proxy similar to a load balancer? Well, no as a load balancer is useful when we have multiple servers. Often, load balancers route traffic to a set of servers serving the same function, while reverse proxies can be useful even with just one web server or application server. A reverse proxy can also act as a load balancer but not the other way around.


Below are some commonly used proxy technologies:

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