Forward Proxy vs Reverse Proxy: Differences & Uses 

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Websites use forward or reverse proxies to keep things secure, each with its role. Over 81% of websites opt for reverse proxies, but forward proxies are just as impressive.

So, what’s the difference between these two proxy types? Learn more about their uses, types, pros, and cons.

What’s a Proxy Server? 

A proxy server mediates the requests you make to the websites you visit. It steps in, catches your requests, and forwards them using a different IP. This way, your real identity won’t be compromised.

Proxy servers come in many types for different use cases. They generally analyze websites for security and protect sensitive data while browsing. Proxies also allow access to more content by making it seem like you’re browsing from somewhere else.

What’s a Forward Proxy Server? 

A forward proxy server is a middleman between the internal network and the internet. It functions as a mediator for outbound traffic from user devices to the web. 

The forward proxy will intercept all user requests for a website, file, or other resource. It assesses its legitimacy and security before forwarding it to the intended website.

Forward proxies have tons of upsides. They enhance security by acting as a barrier between internal users and potential online threats. They also cache frequently accessed content for better performance and reduced bandwidth usage. 

What’s a Reverse Proxy Server?

A reverse proxy intercepts requests from the internet before they reach the web server. Protecting the server from direct exposure helps users avoid malware and other threats. 

When you want to access a website, the reverse proxy evaluates your request for security before forwarding it. This keeps the actual server hidden and balances the load among multiple servers for better performance. 

Reverse proxies are best known for SSL encryption and content caching. They also make sure the server isn’t overwhelmed by incoming requests.

Forward vs. Reverse Proxy

forward proxy vs reverse proxy diagram

Similarities Between Forward & Reverse Proxy 

  • Network Security: Both proxies focus on enhancing network security. While forward proxies protect the internal users, reverse proxies protect the server. They do so by scrutinizing incoming requests and filtering malicious traffic before forwarding them.
  • Data Caching: Both proxy types rely on data caching to reduce load times. Forward proxies store frequently accessed content locally to avoid fetching the data repeatedly. Meanwhile, reverse proxies cache content on the server side, improving end-user response times and reducing backend server load.
  • Protocol Switching: Forward and reverse proxies manage requests using different protocols to ensure compatibility. They can also handle SSL encryption and decryption to protect data in transit.
  • Data Protection and Privacy: Forward proxies hide user identities and scrutinize the safety of outbound connections for ideal data privacy. Reverse proxies do the same by filtering and blocking malicious requests.

Differences Between Forward & Reverse Proxy 

  • Traffic Direction: Forward proxies handle outgoing traffic from internal users to the internet. On the other hand, reverse proxies deal with traffic coming from the internet to backend servers.
  • Caching Location: Forward proxies cache data locally on the client side to save bandwidth on identical requests. On the other hand, reverse proxies cache content on the server to improve the end-user experience.
  • Load Balancing: Since forward proxies deal with outbound traffic, they don’t have load-balancing features. Reverse proxies prioritize server health by distributing the incoming traffic evenly.
  • Resource Optimization: Better bandwidth usage and data retrieval are the main aims of forward proxies. Meanwhile, reverse proxies prioritize server performance, traffic distribution, and cache.
  • Deployment Location: Forward proxies are placed within the internal network to be closer to end-users. Reverse proxies are closer to the internet since they’re in the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).

Exploring Forward Proxy Servers

forward proxy uses and advantages

Types of Forward Proxy Servers 

Residential Proxy

Residential proxies provide IPs that belong to specific devices in real locations. These proxies can be expensive since they’re more reliable than other proxy types. =

Mobile Proxy

A mobile proxy masks your identity by replacing it with a different IP provided by a mobile internet ISP. The proxy makes it look like you’re browsing through a home internet connection on a mobile device.

Datacenter Proxy

Datacenter proxies are not provided by your internet service provider but by a corporation’s data center. That means it exists in a physical data center, offering quick responses at an affordable rate.

Why Should You Use a Forward Proxy Server 

Access Geo-Restricted Content

Forward proxies can help access websites or restricted content in your location. They’ll redirect your request through a server in a location where that service is available.

Keep Your Identity Hidden

Forward proxies hide your unique details, like your IP address, from prying eyes. Instead, they display a random (or geo-specific) IP address to replace yours. 

Data Scraping

Around 38% of companies practice data scraping with the help of scraper tools and proxies. Forward proxies prevent websites from blocking or detecting the scraper and handle multiple requests simultaneously for quick scraping.

Security & Privacy

Before they send any content your way, forward proxies will examine it for potential threats. They’ll warn the user if the content they’re viewing or downloading has malware.

Exploring Reverse Proxy Servers 

reverse proxy uses and advantages

Types of Reverse Proxy Servers 

Load Balancers

Load balancers distribute incoming requests among multiple servers to share the workload and prevent server overload in the long run.

Application Delivery Controllers

These controllers help manage and optimize how applications are delivered to users. Their main goal is to ensure they reach their destination quickly and efficiently.

Encryption Servers

Encryption servers are essentially guardians of data. They handle the encryption and decryption of information, keeping it secure during its journey across the internet.

Caching Servers

Caching servers store frequently used data. So, next time you request the same information, it’ll load faster as they’ll fetch it from their local memory.

Content Delivery Networks

CDNs are like express delivery services for web content. They store copies of content in multiple locations worldwide to reduce the distance data travels.

Web Application Firewall

Web application firewalls monitor and filter incoming web traffic. They protect web applications from major online threats, which is why the top companies have over 100 firewalls set up.

Why Should You Use a Reverse Proxy Server 

Caching

Reverse proxies store copies of frequently accessed data, so there’s no need to fetch it from the backend servers every time. That means users can enjoy faster load speeds.

Load Balancing

Reverse proxies ensure even workload distribution by assigning the requests to different servers. Besides preventing server overload, it also improves overall system efficiency and responsiveness.

DDoS Protection

DDoS attacks have shockingly increased by 115% since the last year. Reverse proxies prevent these attacks by spreading incoming traffic across various servers and mitigating the attack’s.

Canary Experimentation

Reverse proxies allow developers to test new features by directing some of the traffic (canary users) to the updated version. Meanwhile, the rest continue using the existing one without any impact on their UX.

URL/Content Rewriting

A reverse proxy can modify or rewrite URLs and content before serving them to users. It helps maintain consistency, implement redirects, or adapt content for various devices without affecting the backend resources.

Anonymity + Security

These proxies stand between external users and backend servers to keep the server details hidden. They also assess incoming requests for malware and threats.

Final Words

Forward and reverse proxies are similar but serve different use cases. Forward proxies are great for personal tasks like web scraping, while reverse proxies are better at managing server-side requests.

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AUTHOR

Expert in mobile proxies, internet privacy, SEO marketing and sales.
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