Enhancing your Internet Experience Using a Proxy Server
A free proxy server is a kind of tunnel or buffer that is placed between your personal computer and the websites you are trying to access on the Internet. The server acts as an intermediary that relays traffic between the client host and the server. If your browser is configured to go through a free proxy, every time you surf the Internet, all traffic between you and the target websites is routed through your chosen one. It is easy to install, easy to use and offers you the privacy you did not even know you needed.
So far you’ve been surfing the web without going through any of them, so why the need for it now? As the Internet continues to get increasingly more popular it generates a need for further measures to keep everything running smoothly.
The advantages of a proxy website include:
- Enhanced speed of transfer
- Enhanced web browsing
- Enhanced accessibility
- Enhanced privacy
Enhanced speed of transfer
Proxy servers gather files from sites that are most often accessed by internet users and store this information in special databases called caches. Whenever a request is made for a particular website, the server first looks through its own cache of web pages that it has previously downloaded. If it finds the requested page in its cache, the information is promptly retrieved and made fully accessible to the web surfer without needing to visit the target website. Retrieving information from its cache does not result in any loss of quality or content; you have full, high-quality access to all graphics, text and video content of the web page, whether it has been retrieved from the cache or directly from the web. Also, retrieving files from the server’s cache takes much less time than actually visiting the website, thus resulting in faster transfer of information, effectively increasing network speed. The need to visit the target website only arises when the requested information is not found in the cache.
Enhanced web browsing
While browsing the net you could come across offensive advertisements or images that you would prefer to have blocked. Web proxies enhance your browsing experience by offering you the option to ‘block images’ and continue surfing without graphics and images. Public proxies also allow you to block annoying pop-ups that keep ‘popping-up’ and interrupting your work.
Web proxies give you access to certain sites that you would normally not be able to access for various reasons. Very often owners and administrators of Internet resources impose some limitations on internet users from certain geographic regions or countries and sometimes even on certain IP address ranges. You may find that you are unable to view certain websites if you fall within their restriction specifications. Workplace and school IT administrators also place filters on their servers restricting employees and students from accessing certain websites. By using its own IP address, a proxy website circumvents these filters, downloads the requested information onto its own server and transfers it to you for viewing from your browser. There is no trace that any limitations have been violated or that you have managed to access any restricted site.
Complete anonymity is only a façade on the Internet. While it may appear that there are no prying eyes following your movements, in reality every single Internet activity of yours can be traced. Whenever you browse the internet, your IP address gets sent out and is visible to everybody, leaving you vulnerable to invasion of privacy.
Marketing agencies use your IP address to monitor your surfing habits and use this information to promote themselves and send you loads of junk advertising e-mail and spam. While this may seem like a mere annoyance, having your IP address out there in the open can leave you susceptible to more serious intrusions of privacy. Determined hackers can use your IP address to access your personal computer and retrieve important personal information about you including your banking details and your social security number. If you contribute to controversial web blogs, someone, somewhere who strongly disagrees with your point of view could decide to take this up personally with you and actually track down your exact physical location using your IP address.
Setting up an anonymous proxy server is the solution to your privacy concerns. Surfs the web and sends out e-mails and blogs on your behalf using its own IP address, while keeping your IP address completely hidden. What the website administrators and other interested parties see is the IP address of the anonymous proxy. There is no trace of you on the Internet and web site logs only have records of the IP address. This keeps you protected against undesirable internet intrusions including spam, spy ware and hacking.
Setting up your browser for download
Different browsers are set up for download using different methods.
Settings for Internet Explorer 5.0 or later
- Open Internet Explorer.
- From ‘Tools’ menu choose Internet Options.
- Select connections.
- Click “settings” button for Dial-up connection or ‘LAN’ Settings for LAN connection.
- Check and enable “use a procy server”.
- Enter procy name in the “Address” field.
- Enter procy port in the “Port” text book.
- Click “Apply”, click ok to close all E settings.
Settings for Mozilla FireFox
- Open Mozilla FireFox.
- From ‘Tools’ menu choose ‘Options’.
- In the Options dialogue box, select ‘General’.
- Click on the ‘Connection Settings’ button…
- From the ‘Connection Settings’ dialog box you can choose either manual configuration, auto detect settings or automatic configuration URL. Don’t forget to enter the URL if you select automatic.
- settings for Mozilla Firefox will have to be configured manually if you do not have automatic configuration URL or if auto-detection fails.
- Enter details for individual protocols. If the same settings are used by all, click the “Use the same for all protocols” button.
- Enter the addresses that do not need a server, next to the box that says ‘No’.
- Click “OK” when done
settings for Netscape Communicator (Navigator) v4.0 and higher
- From the ‘Edit’ menu click “Preferences”.
- Choose “Proxies’/ “Advanced”
- Select “Manual configuration”
- Set for the required protocols, such as HTTP, FTP.
Types of ProxiesThere are several different types including FTP, Gopher, HTTP, MSN, SSL, SOCKS, ICQ and CGI. Though each of them is designed to offer different solutions, most of them have several common features and abilities.
- HTTP proxy server is the most commonly used. It is used for one-way traffic to retrieve web pages.
- FTTP server caches and transfers FTP traffic.
- Socks server allows transfer of different kinds of data including UDP and TCP.
- SSL server is an extension to the HTTP server. It allows transfer of TCP data just like the Socks server.
A server can be further split into three other categories:
- Level 1: Highly anonymous proxies. Also called elite ones, they hide your actual IP address so that it is impossible to be traced by any website administrators. However the request fields are not changed.
- Level 2: Anonymous proxies. The request fields are changed here, so while you’re actual IP address is not revealed, the can be detected with log analyzing. While your privacy is not compromised, requests are sometimes restricted by a few server administrators.
- Level 3: Transparent proxies. These are simply HTTP proxies and should only be used for improving network speed. The request field is changed but your real IP is also transferred while surfing the net. These do not offer any privacy or security.
Forum Leecher is great for testing out levels of them so you can choose the one that suits you best. You could also choose to use more than one free proxy simultaneously but you may experience some loss of speed.
ProxyChain is a system that can be fully customized to allow you to surf the internet through several chains of servers, thus helping you keep your actual IP address well hidden. ProxyChain supports SOCKS4 as well as HTTP protocols, making it effective for use while sending e-mails, chatting and browsing the web as well as file transfer protocol (FTP). When ProxyChain is installed on any server, it creates a complete pool of chains, where each chain is made up of several servers. When you request a web page, your personal computer will only connect you to the first in the existent chain. This request is then forwarded to each server in all the chains and then to the chains in the pool. The target web site finally receives your request from the last in the pool. This chain of intermediate servers makes it impossible to trace your original IP address, thus providing you the ultimate security.