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What is the purpose of reverse proxy and forward proxy?

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James Hunt

12-30-2021

Many businesses use proxy servers to route and secure traffic between networks. There’s often confusion, however, on how this differs from a reverse proxy. In this post, we’ll dissect the two concepts and explain how administrators can use a reverse proxy for easy access management control.


What is a proxy server?

A proxy server, sometimes referred to as a forward proxy, is a server that routes traffic between client(s) and another system, usually external to the network. By doing so, it can regulate traffic according to preset policies, convert and mask client IP addresses, enforce security protocols, and block unknown traffic.

Systems with shared networks, such as business organizations or data centers, often use proxy servers. Proxy servers expose a single interface with which clients interact without having to enforce all of the policies and route management logic within the clients themselves.


What is a reverse proxy?

A reverse proxy is a type of proxy server.  Unlike a traditional proxy server, which is used to protect clients, a reverse proxy is used to protect servers. A reverse proxy is a server that accepts a request from a client, forwards the request to another one of many other servers, and returns the results from the server that actually processed the request to the client as if the proxy server had processed the request itself. The client only communicates directly with the reverse proxy server and it does not know that some other server actually processed its request.

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