To an average person, accessing the web is a straightforward process; a query is sent, a response is returned. This narrative may sound simple, but it is not entirely true. Many activities occur from the moment a query is sent out to the point a response is returned. And HTTP proxy plays a considerable role in these underlining activities.
Those who use HTTP proxies do so for several reasons, including dealing with firewalls, geo-blocking or reducing bandwidth size during browsing.
What are HTTP proxies?
An HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) proxy is considered one of the oldest types of proxy. It is defined as an application layered protocol built for transferring and receiving less secure information over the internet.
Its primary job is to serve as an intermediary between an internet user and the servers. This way, it can relay the request made by the user to the server as well as retrieve the HTML text and other site resources (such as images, sounds, videos as well as different kinds of multimedia files) and return them as the results of the search. Additionally, HTTP proxies also act as firewalls preventing harmful contents with malware from reaching the user.
They do all of the above while being “stateless”, meaning they do not retrieve and link information between two separate sessions.
How HTTP proxies work?
HTTP proxies are also regarded as forward proxies since they act as the middlemen sending users requests to the target servers. The process through which they do this, however technical, can be simplified as follows:
- The user sends out a query to collect certain information from a server using the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) of the target website.
- The HTTP proxy collects the request, updates it, then sends it to the target website using its location and internet protocol (IP) address.
- The server receives the request, processes it and sends back results containing HTML texts and other necessary resources via the HTTP proxy location.
- The proxy again receives the returning message, checks it for any harmful content before finally sending it to the user.
- The user receives the processed result in the form of readable web pages.
Comparing HTTP with SOCKS proxies
Main benefits of HTTP proxies
There are several benefits of using HTTP proxies, with the main ones being:
- These proxies generally encourage anonymity by concealing the user’s IP address and location.
- They save bandwidth, control traffic amount, and increase the speed of browsing.
- HTTP proxies guarantee better security by preventing hackers from intercepting sensitive information and blocking malware from reaching the user.
- They can be useful tools for controlling and monitoring by parents and brands.
- HTTP proxies can be used to avoid web restrictions and geo-blocking.
- They do not require downloading or installation before they can be used.
- Anyone, including small businesses, can use them since they have free proxy options.
Main drawbacks of HTTP proxies
We have seen their advantages now let us look at some of their drawbacks:
- The traffic and other data passed through these proxies are never encrypted. This leaves the user at risk.
- They usually only work on browsers or programs on which they have been configured and not the entire network.
- Users on public HTTP proxies may suffer slower connections as multiple people usually use it at once.
In most cases, it would be impossible for internet users to connect to servers without the aid of an HTTP proxy. While others might recommend SOCKS proxies, we think the decision on which of these two proxies a client should use should be based ultimately on what the user wants to achieve.
Meanwhile, we have compared both servers, explained the benefits and drawbacks of HTTP proxies with hopes that you will gain knowledge on what these types of proxies are as well as what they are not.