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What exactly does a proxy server do?

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What exactly does a proxy server do?

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Community Veteran
Posts: 3,789
Registered: 08-06-2007

What exactly does a proxy server do?

A proxy server is usually on your local ISP's network, and you request web pages THROUGH it. If the proxy server has this page in its cache already, and it hasn't expired, then the page is served to you by the proxy server, thus decreasing the time it takes to download the page.

If the page does not exist on the proxy server, or it does exist, but it was last requested some time ago, (or with some proxy servers, if the page has been updated on the ACTUAL server) then the page is refetched by the proxy server, served to you, and then cached for any other users.

Barry.
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What exactly does a proxy server do?

So, my school has a leased line, with a server for all the computers in the school, they all connect to the internet through this one computer, so if i could set that as my proxy server, would it be worth while?
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What exactly does a proxy server do?

What a proxy server is a little deeper than that.

A proxy server in general is a relay agent. This means passing data received from pointA, to a destination of pointB, in a way, acting as a middle man.

Proxy servers in a way, are a cheap form of router, though what they route is far more more limited.

A router is designed to route packates from pointA, over a specific connection, converting details as needed (using rules) to pointB. Provided the rules allow it, pointA may not even be aware this is happening, and there connection will act as if directly connected to the internet.

Proxy servers work on a basis where it has to physicaly interact with the proxy server. This is why you have to specify the IP or name of the proxy.

When making a connection over the proxy, the software will first make a connection to the proxy server on the port specified. Commands will be then sent to the server to tell it where you wish to connect to (what these commands are, depend on the proxy protocol).

Many companies use proxy servers to limit what services on the internet systems have access to.

In a basic proxy setup, any program that has the ability to connect using a proxy server (IE, mIRC to name some), can and will get a connection.

However, many proxies limit connections to HTTP server (web servers).

So in reality, yes, you can try setting the proxy server in the software. Note, you will need its IP/name and the exact port number the proxy is running on (normaly 80, 8080 or 1080).

If it is the proxy used in IE, then it must be a generic/HTTP proxy. Socks4/5 proxies (binary protocols) are very uncommon these days.