What is a proxy service and how to use it: a guide

What is a proxy service and how to use it: a guide

Proxy Service - What is it?

Let's explain to website visitors what a proxy service is in simple terms. To do this, we won't delve into details that are not important to 80% of visitors, but we will provide a detailed overview of the topic in general. Once a correct general understanding is formed, specific tasks, such as setting up a proxy service on a laptop, can be solved quickly and without difficulties.

A proxy server is a software-hardware complex connected to the Internet that acts as an intermediary between users and network resources (websites). Users send their requests from their devices to the server, and the server forwards these requests to the desired websites.

The responses follow the same chain: the website sends a packet of information to the proxy, and then it is forwarded to the user. In this process, the requested website exchanges information with the proxy server, but it knows little or nothing about the user.

What does Proxy Service mean?

A proxy service is an organization that owns one or more proxy servers and provides them for rent under certain conditions. The service can be provided for a fee or for free, with limitations or without limitations on usage time, traffic, etc.

Why do you need a Proxy Service?

Each of us connects to the Internet through a provider (mobile, cable operator, etc.). When connecting, the user's device is assigned a unique IP address. From this address, requests are sent to social networking sites, news sites, online stores, and responses are received. The responses are the information that allows us to view and read web pages, watch movies, listen to music, send emails, make online banking transfers, etc.

In this scheme, there are no intermediaries, but this method is not always safe and rational. We won't describe all the situations in which the question of how to enable a proxy service in the network becomes relevant. Let's consider just two arguments:

  • It is beneficial to use caching

Many users from the same city may access a particular website for the same information, read the same page. The website will have to respond to each of them, which is inefficient duplication.

However, if a proxy service is connected and all users are routed through the intermediary, after the first request, the server will save the important web page in its cache. In the future, it will immediately provide it to other users without sending repeated requests to the internet resource.

  • The need to hide the user's IP address and location

In the direct interaction scheme, websites have the ability to identify and accumulate information about the user based on their unique IP address. If the user does not want this, the task arises of how to incorporate a proxy service into the interaction scheme so that the requested websites learn less or nothing about the true source of the requests. After all, they will now be communicating with the proxy IP.

It is important to supplement the description of the working scheme with an explanation that proxies usually use not just one, but multiple addresses when communicating with end resources. In other words, the user sends requests and receives responses from a single IP proxy server. However, this server exchanges information with websites through multiple addresses. Therefore, the requested resources consider that multiple users from different IPs are working with them.

Who needs it?

Clients of proxy services can be conditionally divided into 3 groups:

  • Opponents of the "Big Brother"
  • Those who need to bypass national and other restrictions
  • Corporate and private clients who need to download large volumes of information from portals, manage dozens of social media accounts, etc.

The meaning of a proxy service for opponents of the "Big Brother" is clear - it is a tool for anonymizing their work. It is an intermediary that allows hiding the user's true address and location. This category includes not only people who are abstractly concerned about security and the confidentiality of personal data.

Firstly, there is no such thing as excessive precautions when it comes to security. Secondly, we are talking about reasonable and necessary precautions. For example, a commercial organization collects market information from competitors' websites for analysis.

If competitors can track the parameters of the campaign, they will conduct a counter-analysis. As a result, they will learn about the areas of interest, find out which purchases and market niches are being researched, and decipher their opponent's intentions in the market. But if a proxy service is connected and configured before starting the data collection process, competitors will not be able to track the source of the requests and take countermeasures.

Private and not only Internet users often ask where the proxy service is located. This is due to the following reasons: The general IP address space on the network is divided into national segments. Addresses from X to Y belong to Argentina, and from Y+1 to Z - to China, and so on. Consequently, any website after the first request will know in which country the user is located.

What if the client has moved or permanently resides in another country? They will be denied access. To solve this problem, it is necessary to understand how to use a proxy service and connect using an appropriate resident server.

Resident servers are intermediary servers that have "outgoing" IPs in the desired national segment. The user connects to the proxy from country A or any other country, there are no restrictions on this. Then their requests are forwarded with the IP of country B, and the desired website provides the necessary information without any questions or reservations!

Bypassing national and other restrictions is necessary in other cases as well. These are well-known bans based on laws, government decisions, or regional administrations. In this case, the blocking is usually done at the level of the Internet service provider in the following way:

  • The user sends a request to the desired resource
  • But first, the request goes through the provider's software-hardware tools
  • The provider's software checks if the requested resource is on the list of prohibited ones
  • If a match is found, the request is not sent further, and the user is notified: "Forbidden".

To get rid of such a ban, there is nothing better than setting up a proxy service and working through an intermediary. After that:

  • Requests from the user go not to the address of the blocked resource, but to the address of the proxy
  • Proxy servers are not on the banned list, so the provider will let the request through
  • The intermediary will forward the request to the real address, and the national blocking will not work!

The third group includes "white," "gray," and even "black" users. But in all cases, the volumes and nature of the work they perform provoke a negative reaction from various resources - from search engines to social networks and online stores.

For example, market analysts need to monitor prices to prepare their analysis. To do this, they need to open all web pages of products in an online store and remember the prices. Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, this operation is repeated to compare prices and determine the dynamics.

It should be noted that on major platforms, the number of products and pages with their descriptions reaches millions. Therefore, such data collection significantly burdens the web server, which the administration is not happy about and tries to get rid of such a visitor. To do this, protective software tools are developed, so-called anti-spam algorithms.

The logic of their operation is as follows: if many requests are regularly or frequently received from one IP, then this address should be banned, and the incoming packets of information from it should be ignored. Similar situations arise when managing multiple accounts on social networks, collecting data on website positions in search engine results, etc.

To bypass such bans, there is nothing better than setting up a proxy service and working through an intermediary. In this case, the target resource will "see" not one, but many users working with it from different IPs, so the anti-spam algorithm will not suspect anything.

With or without a proxy - what's better?

This question should be answered independently, taking into account your own interests. If you fall into one of the three categories mentioned in the previous section, choose and connect a reliable service to your devices and software.

What needs to be done to switch to working through a proxy?

You need to follow the step-by-step instructions provided below. We recommend reading the instructions to the end first and then starting with the first step.

Choose a service and order services

It is not difficult to find lists of free servers and reviews of paid services on the Internet. Our website provides many reviews with promo codes for a 10-30% discount.

Each service provider has its own features, but in any case, the client receives a list of proxy server parameters. Using this information, the network operation can be switched to anonymous mode using one of the schemes described in the next section.

Determine the working scheme

Depending on the needs and specifics of the task, you can switch to working through a proxy:

  • All devices in the apartment or office
  • A separate device (laptop, desktop, smartphone)
  • A separate program (e.g., a browser)

In the first case, changes are made to the settings of the router or corporate server with an internet gateway. We won't go into detail about this option, we will just outline its essence:

How to connect a proxy service, where to find network connection settings in the router menu - this should be learned from the instructions for the specific model.

After reconfiguring the router, all requests from user devices are directed to the proxy. Thus, the laptops, computers, and smartphones themselves do not need to be reconfigured. These devices continue to operate in the same mode, but when connected to the Internet through the router, they automatically go online anonymously.

A separate device is switched to work through the intermediary by changing the settings in the operating system. Here, too, we will limit ourselves to a general remark that you need to act in accordance with the OS user guide. The essence of the changes is that after reconfiguring the operating system, any program on the laptop, desktop, or smartphone will automatically interact with Internet resources through a proxy.

In many programs, but not all, there is an option to reconfigure network settings to connect through a proxy. It should be emphasized that only the reconfigured application, such as a browser, will work anonymously. Other applications running on the same computer, such as social media or email clients, will continue to report their IP address to the requested resources.

Let's take a closer look at the last option, but since the number of software products is infinitely large, we will limit ourselves to two examples.

How to change proxy service settings for a browser

For example, let's take the popular browser Mozilla Firefox:

  • In the main program window, click on the "Application Menu" button (three horizontal lines)
  • Select the "Settings" menu item
  • In the opened window, select the "General" panel
  • Find the "Network Settings" section and click the "Settings" button
  • Select the "Manual proxy configuration" option from the list
  • Enter the data provided by the proxy provider in the corresponding fields for different protocols (HTTP, HTTPS)

If you encounter difficulties, contact the support service of the proxy service.

How to configure the Undetectable browser

The process is described in detail in the product documentation docs.undetectable.io. In this article, we will only mention two ways to enter proxy server parameters in the Undetectable browser. The first one is similar to the one described above - the data is entered in the corresponding fields in the profile settings window. However, entering hosts, ports, types, as well as logins and passwords for accessing multiple servers in many profiles using this method is a laborious task. Therefore, it is more convenient to use the Proxy Manager, which works with a formatted list of server data. With one click, the Proxy Manager will generate an example template file. After that, it will be convenient to enter the necessary parameters in a text editor. It is even easier to transfer the data from the file to the Undetectable browser profiles - just press the "Import" button.

How to check proxy service settings

After reconfiguring, for example, a browser, it is important to verify that the switch to anonymous work has occurred. The main check is to compare the IP address with the "Work through proxy" option enabled and disabled. Use any of the many resources that show the user's address and other information.

First, visit whoer.net without a proxy, and then enable working through the intermediary. In both cases, whoer.net should respond and display a page with user data, but the IP addresses will be different. In the first case, it should display your real address, and in the second case - the proxy address.

What is not mentioned here

Since we promised to explain in simple terms, we did not consider details that are not important to all users. For example, proxies differ in the degree of anonymity. The proxy server always forwards requests from its IP address, but it can:

  • Immediately notify the recipient about the fact of forwarding
  • Notify about the fact of forwarding in response to a special request
  • Not notify in any way about the fact of working through a proxy

Therefore, purely anonymous proxy services are the third category mentioned above. However, the other two categories also provide a certain degree of anonymity.

We should also mention that there are paid and free proxy services on the network. Which one is more convenient to use in a particular case can only be determined by the user, taking into account their tasks and the deadlines for their completion. At the same time, it is obvious that free resources are highly loaded, and their reliable technical condition is not guaranteed.