Forward Proxies Vs. Reverse Proxies (What’s the Difference?)

Companies need to find effective ways to make business decisions quickly in order to thrive and expand. That’s when scraping data from the internet comes in handy. However, as an organization’s need for sufficient accurate data grows, using a proxy becomes the most effective solution to keep things running smoothly.

Proxies offer unhindered access to user data from numerous servers while protecting a business’s identity and securing its networks. Other benefits of using a proxy as a company are:

  • Increased speed
  • Compressed bandwidth
  • Ability to bypass content restrictions

Forward proxies are so different from reverse proxies that they can’t be easily compared, and picking the best one for a specific case use can get a tad confusing. Knowing when and why reverse and forward proxies are used will give users all the information they need to find the most suitable type for their enterprise needs.

Forward Proxy vs. Reverse Proxy: Types, Uses, and Differences

Forward proxy vs reverse proxy

The average person on the internet may use proxies without questioning them any further than their ability to grant them access to restricted content. However, the proxy world can be quite complex. Proxies mediate different types of online connections, and there are different kinds of them for different kinds of online activities depending on their dimensions.

Some proxies denote what devices act as proxy servers, others handle privacy and data management, and others indicate the connection between users and a proxy server. The structural position of a proxy is what makes it either a forward proxy or a reverse one.

Reverse Proxy Explained

reverse proxy explained

Now that the concept of forward proxies is much clearer, it’s time to define reverse proxy. Unlike their highly used counterparts, reverse proxies don’t act on behalf of the user. They reside in back-end servers, and their primary goal is to pass the user’s requests onto them.

Reverse proxies are typically used to increase speed and protection. They make it seem like a certain proxy server is processing a request by getting it from the client and redirecting it to another server. This way, the user won’t ever reach the origin server directly. This helps further ensure anonymity to a web server.

Reverse proxies are not targeted at the average consumer. They’re a lot more useful for service providers or sites with loads of daily traffic. These proxies can:

  • Increase website performance
  • Protect web servers
  • Avoid site overloading

Types of reverse proxies

All reverse proxies are pretty much the same based on functionality. Yet, much like with forward proxies, there are two main types when considering their features: load balancing proxies and regular reverse proxies.

Load balancing proxies

These types of reverse proxies are designed to lead to numerous back-end servers at once. They can distribute traffic among several servers while managing user-server communication between all of them simultaneously, thus increasing speed and performance.

Regular reverse proxies

These kinds of reverse proxies are used for security purposes. They intercept user requests and direct them to the server so that they can be processed. Once done, the reverse proxy sends it back to the client.

Common uses for reverse proxies

Brands and organizations have their own needs when it comes to proxies. The most common reasons why they might require a reverse proxy are:

1. Load balancing

Online businesses and those with sites that draw in too much traffic sometimes need a little help dealing with their daily visitor flow. That’s when using a reverse proxy might be useful. These types of proxies can distribute the traffic between numerous back-end servers. This helps increase the server’s capacity to handle several requests at once.

Reverse proxies can also redirect traffic to keep a site running smoothly if one of its servers is overloaded or not working correctly. Back-end developers can provide load balancing proxy with additional back-end servers to boost their capacity and meet an ever-growing demand.

2. Caching

Reverse proxies can also cache the most commonly requested data for sites to load more efficiently. For example, when a particular website needs to store pictures, videos, and other information that slows down its loading times and performance, caching this content with a reverse proxy may enhance the user experience.

3. Ensure anonymity and increase security

Reverse proxies act as an extra layer of protection for back-end servers that intercepts all incoming requests. These proxies stop malicious actors in their tracks and prevent them from affecting web servers by blocking all suspicious traffic from their IP addresses.

What Is a Forward Proxy?

what is a forward proxy

When people talk about using a proxy, in most cases they’re most likely referring to a forward proxy, which is the most common proxy type available. Forward proxies act as a mediator between the user and the internet, meaning all user requests go through the forward proxy before they reach any particular site.

Once the forward proxy retrieves the necessary data from the internet, it bounces it back to the user that made the request. With this, the user’s identity is protected since it’d be the proxy server (and not the user) that’s making the request. Forward proxies also have the ability to cache information to use it in future requests.

Forward proxies are viewed as a point of access and control that can increase user security within a certain network. These types of proxies also regulate traffic and mask the user’s original IP address to provide anonymity.

Types of forward proxies

Depending on their origin, forward proxies can often be classified into two categories: residential proxies and data center proxies.

1. Residential proxies

These types of forward proxies have a physical location and a real IP address provided by an Internet service provider. Residential proxies can be:

  • Rotating
  • Static

2. Data center proxies

These types of forward proxies are not associated with an Internet service provider. Their IP addresses come from data centers and other sources. Data center proxies can be:

  • Rotating
  • Dedicated
  • Semi-dedicated

Common uses for forward proxies

Businesses and individual users use forward proxies for a wide variety of reasons. The most common are:

1. Web scraping

In the business world, the most common use for forward proxies is scraping user data from the web. This comes in handy when organizations want to improve their product, marketing, and business strategies and stay competitive in the market.

2. Accessing restricted content based on geo-location

Forward proxies allow users to interact with a variety of content initially intended for audiences in other territories. In a business setting, this can come in handy if a company wants to monitor ads from a different country or to see if theirs are visible in any part of the world.

3. Granting anonymity

Privacy is essential when browsing the web, especially for businesses that handle sensitive data. A forward proxy adds an extra layer of safety between the user and the internet by hiding the user’s actual IP address and using a completely different one. Using a forward proxy is an excellent way to guarantee a company’s identity and network are secure at all times.

Understanding the Difference Between Forward and Reverse Proxy

difference between forward and reverse proxy

Once the user understands the definitions of the various types of proxies, it’s much easier to differentiate forward proxy vs. reverse proxy. The first is always used by clients inside a private network, and the latter is more suitable for internet servers.

Forward and reverse proxies are used for many different and very specific purposes. While forward proxies are intended to ensure privacy, scrape the web, or access restricted content, businesses rely on reverse proxies to avoid overloading and offer a better experience to their users. Reverse proxies also add an extra safety layer to stop malicious entities from attacking a specific server.

Find the Right Proxy for Your Business

Choose Right Proxy for Your Business

There is no forward vs. reverse proxy battle, simply because they’re both too different to compare them. Both forward proxies and reverse proxies play an important role in enhancing business operations and increasing security while browsing the web. Knowing when and why reverse and forward proxies are used is crucial for proxy users to make an informed decision on which one’s best for them.

Forward proxies will benefit any company that needs to scrape the web for relevant data that will ultimately lead to better business strategies. If you’re interested in finding one that suits your enterprise-level needs, explore the solutions we can offer you today.

The information contained within this article, including information posted by official staff, guest-submitted material, message board postings, or other third-party material is presented solely for the purposes of education and furtherance of the knowledge of the reader. All trademarks used in this publication are hereby acknowledged as the property of their respective owners.

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