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Proxies and Proxy Lists
Many people have heard of the word proxy and for most of them, this is just a common technical word. However, not many people understand what it really means, what it does, and what the details are behind this technical term. This article will enlighten you on many areas about proxies. It will cover what a proxy is, the types of proxies, the advantages, the uses and some other facts that will make you understand how they work and why they are considered as an important tool to access sites that are restricted by firewalls and network administrators.
What is a Proxy?
A proxy is a site that can provide Internet users the access to sites that are blocked by filters, or restrictions set by Internet and network administrators. With a proxy, you have a portal to a blocked or restricted site and it is possible to avoid the settings of content filter that has been set in the network. Also, a proxy allows masking of the access to the site to ensure that there is no trace of a failure in the filter activity.
In layman's terms, a proxy has the capability to unblock websites with restrictions set at the administrator level which normally happens at school or at work. With a proxy, there is a power to temporarily modify your IP address and make you anonymous when you access blocked sites. This anonymity is what makes proxies powerful and popular especially among social networkers who would never let a day pass without visiting their favorite social sites like Facebook or MySpace. They have access through the use of a Facebook proxy or a MySpace proxy. Hence, nobody can ever hinder them from getting in touch with their contacts or friends even when they are using public networks.
One common application of proxy is a caching web proxy. This allows a cache or storage of web pages and files available on remote servers. This allows local client workstations to quickly access these frequently used pages. With a caching proxy, the URL that is accessed is searched in the local cache. If it is there, the document is displayed immediately. Otherwise, it gets fetched from the server and returns it to the requesting client and saves a copy of the page in the cache.
How Does A Proxy Work?
A proxy operates in the same manner of accessing the Internet as when a web browser is used. It basically allows the user to enter the web address and be linked to the specific page access in the browser window. Here, the window maintains a code that is part of the proxy site address. It does not reflect the actual website that the user is accessing. Also, the information accessed and stored in the temporary Internet files will be related to the proxy site and not to the restricted site.
A proxy site allows anonymous web surfing and this gives the advantage of not being tracked about your online activities that can expose the information that you pass on to other sites. With anonymous surfing made possible by proxies, no one would know who you are, your location and what particular sites you are visiting.
A proxy or a proxy server is a machine that mediates between your computer and all Internet sites that you want to access. Every page that you want to access goes to the server prior to the web server that contains the pages you want to visit. This means that a client starts a connection to the proxy server, then, it will request a connection or a file or any resource that resides on another server. Then, the proxy server provides the needed resource by connecting to the server that needs to be accessed or by going through the cache. One common proxy server for the Unix/Linux environment is the Squid proxy.
With an anonymous proxy server, you are using software that shields your IP address from page requests and replaces it with its own address. The web page is relayed to the proxy server and forwards it to you without scripts that can put your identity at risk.
Advantages of a Proxy
When the term anonymous surfing is heard, the more common perception is that this is associated with malicious hacking or downloading and other negative intentions. The truth is that there are legitimate reasons why anonymous surfing through proxies.
A proxy is needed when your school or your employer has strict and unreasonable Internet access policies. It is needed when you want to freely exercise your freedom of speech to express your views about some government or societal issues and you want to be shielded for possible harassment or tracking by people who may be offended with your opinion.
A proxy is needed to exercise your right to conduct your business without intrusion by anybody. It is also very useful when you are out of the country and you need to access content that is restricted only to your country. Also, you need a proxy to shield you from being used by search engine in gathering information from your site. Or, you simply need a proxy to hide from advertisers who are interested to know where you are located and what kinds of products you are buying.
There are many legitimate reasons why a proxy list is needed. The sometimes unreasonable filtering of keywords accessed in school or at work can prevent a person from being more productive as sites like useful pages and glossaries are sometimes affected by unnecessary filtering. An example of a content filter used by companies is Websense. It is a web filter application that limits end users from accessing specific Internet sites. It started in 1994 and has now become one of the popular software packages for the purpose.
With a proxy list, useful and valid assistance can be derived without having to call the school or company technical support. This allows you to get rid of this time-consuming step of getting authorization to access a valid site.
Further, because there are countries that block their citizens from getting outside information from the Internet, the use of proxies can allow them to get in touch with the world and know what is going on.
The good thing about proxy sites is that the IP address of the user is not recorded. This allows the anonymity and privacy of the user. It can even allow you to eliminate images and advertisements.
Types of Web Proxies
There are two main types of Web proxy scripts. These are PHProxy and CGIProxy.
PHProxy or sometimes known as PHP proxy is a site that allows free and unchallenged access to social networking sites without a user name. This kind of proxy also allows access to government and corporate sites. Although PHProxy is useful for those who have security concerns with the different sites, it is most often taken advantage of by hackers or those who were denied access in their previous access attempts.
When you use a PHProxy, you will have the option of including a small URL form on your page. You can also remove scripting at the client side and accept HTTP cookies. You can show images and show the referring site in the HTTP headers. You can also strip meta-tags and strip site title if you like. Aside from these, you can also open another URL in a new window and be able to store cookies only for a particular session.
It is worth noting however that customization of other instances of the PHP proxy may lead to the reduction of anonymity and can result to revealing your original IP address. This will then defeat the purpose of using the proxy in the first place.
CGI means common gateway interface and this kind of proxy is installed on web servers using different protocols like HTTP, SSL and FTP. With this proxy, you will be able to access any resource from its server. It is very useful for anonymous proxies, virtual private network and for personal uses. It modifies links to point to the proxy and these include images, requests or any other access operation. It can also filter unwanted advertisements
A CGI proxy, or Common Gateway Interface proxy acts the same was a PHP proxy works, but what is going on behind the scenes is a little different. A CGI proxy uses a script written in the Perl programming language, and is parsed by Perl and not PHP. CGI proxies are better at passing on usernames and passwords to the destination website. This allows the user to log into websites that require a username and password to access. CGI proxies can respond quicker than a PHP proxy. But since the CGI proxy uses different resources to process the Perl script, it can be of much more load to the server. For this reason, CGI proxies are less common. Most Proxy Server hosts donít allow the hosting of CGI proxies because of this possible excessive load it can task the server with. CGI proxies are the best for any site that requires a login, but are harder to find.
Where to Find a List of Proxies
Based on the above information, it you can see that proxies and proxy servers are very important and have legitimate uses that can improve people's productivity. When used responsibly, it is possible to achieve more and make full use of the technology available not to be hindered from accessing important sites.
There are sites that contain a list of proxies also known as a proxy list, that you can use when you are looking for a proxy. You just have to be careful in getting the right list because there are some proxy lists that do not have legitimate, updated and fresh lists. A legitimate list contains a list of proxies that are new and have constantly been maintained and updated for its users. In order to see which list will be useful for your purpose, you need to do some due diligence by researching and reviewing proxy list sites and compare results of reviews and user feedback. There are lists that just contain false proxy sites and without exercising caution, you will end up wasting your precious time relying on such proxies.
A proxy list can also contain a list of any https, http or socks web proxy server. This list may contain the IP addresses of computers that serve as host to proxy servers. A list often divided by the different server protocols. The legitimate ones ban proxies that cannot be trusted and can cause problems to users. New proxies, however, come out as part of the proxy list to allow access to the sites that banned proxies are supposed to enter.
The best way to find a valid proxy list is to check on the credibility and do some random check of the proxies in the list. The legitimate and reliable list contains proxies that change constantly. This is a requirement especially that network and Internet administrators also get updates about new proxies and with the knowledge of these, they tend to include those in the restricted sites. As a result, these proxies also get blocked and can no longer bypass local network restrictions.
It is therefore advisable to bookmark a proxy list and check it regularly for updates on your favorite social site proxies and make them handy when the need comes, whether in school or at work.
You will also notice that an active proxy list reorders proxies randomly every ten minutes to provide exposure of proxies at the top. This is necessary in as much as there are more than hundreds of proxies that are listed in some proxy lists. You will have enough choices for the proxy that you need for your purpose. The best thing is that you know the proxy list site and you have it ready when you are using a public network for your normal Internet access concerns.
Using a proxy list and proxies are ways of taking advantage of technology to improve performance and to maximize the Internet resources that should always be available at your disposal. With a reliable proxy list, you are like a soldier who always has a tool that he needs for any battle. There may be times that you will not have a need for a proxy list but when this need comes and you need a proxy to access Facebook, Friendster, YouTube, MySpace or any other social networking site, it is smart to be having a proxy list as your tool to access these restricted sites.
This is the era of technology. Maximize and utilize what it offers for your different processes. As long as what you are doing is legal and an exercise of your right, you should not worry about using a legitimate, free proxy list and proxies, in particular.
For more information about proxies, check out the articles section.
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