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What is an Online Proxy Server?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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An online proxy server acts as the middle man between a web browser and a website. Basically, the proxy server receives a request from the user’s web browser and then fetches and displays the requested website. By using an online proxy server, the user is anonymous to the website he or she is visiting. The user can also bypass firewalls and other applications that might be attempting to block the requested website. Firewalls are commonplace in schools and workplaces, not only to block pornographic websites, but games, social networking websites, and more.

To put it simply, an online proxy server is a website that displays another website when prompted. While it serves multiple purposes, its primary purpose is often to get around firewalls and parental control filters. Some people use it to also access websites, such as forums, that they have been banned from. Other people use proxies to browse websites that they do not want showing up in their web-browsing history.

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An online proxy server is often an easy way to gain access to normally restricted websites; it is nothing new to many students and employees around the world. A lot of educational institutions and workplaces are catching on and becoming smarter about blocking websites, however. For example, it is possible to block an online proxy server using the same method for blocking the would-be restricted websites the students or employees are accessing. Once the proxy is blocked, a person must either find a new proxy or another way around the block.

While a significant number of online proxies are free to use, some proxies request a monthly fee. Sometimes these pay-to-use proxies are faster to load websites because less people are using them at the same time, and the owner has more money to spend on improving the website. Another con of using free online proxy server websites is the typical display of advertisements. In some cases, the website being viewed is surrounded by ads, which help keep the proxy free. Even so, many people who routinely use a proxy refrain from purchasing a monthly subscription.

A website offering proxy services might also offer similar services, like anonymous email and link anonymizers. Another popular feature of proxy websites is a forum to share ideas on how to stay safe online, prevent identify theft, and browse anonymously. These extra tools and features may or may not be free to use, depending on the proxy.

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SZapper
Post 4

@strawCake - Ah yes, what would the Internet be without the troll? And of course there is another entertaining soul that frequents the Internet also: the tinfoil hat guy.

This is the person that is always spouting conspiracy theories, and probably stocked up on canned goods and bottled water before Y2K. I "know" a few of these people online, and they all use proxies to do all of their surfing.

They claim the government is snooping in our online history and the only way to stop them is to use a proxy. I don't know about all that, but I know using a proxy makes these people feel better.

strawCake
Post 3

I'm a member of several Internet forums. I really like it because I can "meet" and interact with other people who share my interests.

However, anyone who is familiar with forums is probably also familiar with "trolls." These are people who sign up and post on the forum just to cause trouble. They are often banned very quickly so the rest of the forum can return to business as usual.

On one of the forums I frequent we had a pretty persistent troll for awhile. He was using proxies to sign up for the forum again after he got banned. He did this several times until he finally got tired of us and moved on.

popcorn
Post 2

My university used to block a ton of sites from our campus, some of them totally mundane like social networking sites and online gaming sites. It always bothered me that we couldn't use the computer labs to play online during our free time on campus, especially considering how much money we paid for tuition.

While I can understand giving priority to students who actually need to do their school work, there should be nothing wrong with playing online when the computer labs are half-empty. I mean, how is updating your status on a social networking site really going to hurt anyone's productivity?

I feel if you are stuck on campus for a few hours and need to kill time, the school should at least give you something fun to do. I know they say online gaming and such is a security risk, but I think they are full of it.

lonelygod
Post 1

There are many perfectly legitimate reasons why someone would want to use an online proxy server to access a website that was otherwise banned. In my case I travel a lot and some of the websites I frequent won't allow me to have access to them while I am transmitting from foreign IP addresses.

If I want to watch my favorite TV shows or shop at some of my favorite stores I am forced to use an online proxy server so I can get access to all of the pages I normally visit while at home.

I think that if companies really want to protect their pages they should let you sign up and need to log in to view their information. That way not everyone suffers and has to find a work around to see what they want to see.

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