Why should I use a proxy?
One of the distinguishing features of HTTP compared to many other network protocols is that it has had since the start the ability to support proxies. Proxies are intermediaries to the communication flow, and can perform many added-value functions to enhance the overall user experience.
In general a proxy can be deployed in two configurations: forward (or regular) and reverse.
Advantages of Regular Proxy
The main functions a regular proxy can perform are caching, to save network resources by directly supplying commonly-accessed data to clients, authentication and authorization, logging, company internet policy enforcement (aka content filtering), network resources usage management.
Advantages of a Reverse Proxy
A Reverse Proxy usually sits in front of a web server farm, and optimizes the work of the web servers, by caching and serving frequently-accessed static contents, SpoonFeeding slow clients, and also possibly perform request filtering to enhance the web applications' security. It can also be used as an IPv4-IPv6 (or v6-v4) gateway.
Squid is one of the most used HTTP proxy implementations, and can be deployed both in forward and reverse proxy scenarios. Its most distinguishing feature is its extreme flexibility (see Features,SquidFaq) and customizability (ConfigExamples). It is actively deployed by the Squid Development Team, and freely available under the terms of the GNU General Public License.
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