So many proxy providers are on the market today, and many of those target businesses as major customers. Their abundance could indicate many reasons for small and big businesses to consider proxies. However, why are they such a common solution for businesses?
The first step to answering such a question requires understanding what proxies do and why they exist. Read on to learn how proxies work, their functions, and how businesses can employ them to gain an advantage in multiple industries.
How do Proxies Work?
All of the work that proxies do within an internet connection is over in a few seconds, but the popularity of the service is why it is worth studying. The configuration of the proxy is usually the first step. It involves changing or indicating the IP address for the proxy server in the settings. A user can initiate a web request after specifying the new IP address.
Jargon aside, this refers to typing in a URL or attempting to visit a webpage. When a person attempts to visit an online site, the browser normally sends a web request to the page. A device using a proxy has its browser sending this request to the proxy server instead of the webpage.
The proxy server receives the request and processes it according to the settings and desired function of the proxy. In other words, the proxy may cache contents, mask IP, filter content, monitor traffic, log activity, and simply forward the request.
After the processing, the proxy server sends the request to the destination server of the website the user wishes to visit. The website also routes the response to the request through the proxy to the user’s device.
Functions of proxies
As stated above, the nature of processing undergone by the web request depends on the configuration and type of the proxy used. However, generally speaking, a proxy can perform the following functions:
- Anonymizing a user’s identity and location. A proxy does this by rerouting the location to a different place, thus making it seem as though the web request originates from elsewhere. Dedicated proxies, however, are the only proxy types that allow a user to use a single private proxy IP address through multiple sessions.
- Controlling access to online content. A web proxy can control access to web content by filtering out unwanted content or restricting access to websites a user deems unworthy of consumption.
- Improving network performance and speed. Proxies set to cache often-visited pages and content can improve network performance and speed. They do this by reducing the load on website servers and the loading times for the page in question.
- Redistributing web traffic. Websites that welcome a lot of traffic can use proxies to distribute the load on their servers onto multiple servers, thus improving their overall performance.
- Monitoring web activity. A web proxy can log the activities of a user on demand, thus allowing a user to theoretically monitor the online presence of any individual that utilizes their connection.
Types of Proxies
Proxies bridge the gap between a user’s browser and a website’s server. However, just like the physical bridges we commute on, proxies are not all the same with each other. A business manager needs to identify the proxies available and how they differ. Here are some proxy types to note:
- Forward Proxies
- Reverse Proxies
- Public or Open Proxies
- Shared Proxies
- Private or Dedicated Proxies
- Residential Proxies
- Datacenter Proxies
- Transparent Proxies
- Anonymous Proxies
- Elite Proxies
How Industries Employ Proxies
Considering all of its possible functions, a proxy can be useful in many industries. Below are some industries where proxies can influence productivity and operations positively:
- Social media marketing and management. A proxy server can help businesses manage many region-specific social media profiles from a single location. For instance, dedicated proxies purchased for long-term use can provide secure and less vulnerable connections for managing an account without triggering a block.
- Data collection and analysis. Analysts can utilize residential proxies to access and collect (in conjunction with web scrapers) data from geo-restricted websites or websites that a user cannot access due to an IP ban.
- Retail industry. Competitors within the international retail industry can monitor prices, localized customizations, product features, visibility of ad campaigns, etc., using proxy servers to access and monitor them.
- Politics. Proxies can theoretically help interested parties monitor the perception of political figures and situations in foreign countries by providing access to local social media feeds.
From datacenter to dedicated proxies, the suitability of a proxy for a particular function depends on the needs of the user or business. A business looking to expand its services internationally and conduct research to that effect should consider a residential proxy.
Similarly, a company looking to provide remote workers from another continent access to location-restricted resources should look at dedicated proxies before any other. Such versatility in offering and service effectiveness make proxies a great business solution.