An online proxy server acts as the middle man between a web browser and a website. Basically, the proxy server receives a request from the user’s web browser and then fetches and displays the requested website. By using an online proxy server, the user is anonymous to the website he or she is visiting. The user can also bypass firewalls and other applications that might be attempting to block the requested website. Firewalls are commonplace in schools and workplaces, not only to block pornographic websites, but games, social networking websites, and more.
To put it simply, an online proxy server is a website that displays another website when prompted. While it serves multiple purposes, its primary purpose is often to get around firewalls and parental control filters. Some people use it to also access websites, such as forums, that they have been banned from. Other people use proxies to browse websites that they do not want showing up in their web-browsing history.
An online proxy server is often an easy way to gain access to normally restricted websites; it is nothing new to many students and employees around the world. A lot of educational institutions and workplaces are catching on and becoming smarter about blocking websites, however. For example, it is possible to block an online proxy server using the same method for blocking the would-be restricted websites the students or employees are accessing. Once the proxy is blocked, a person must either find a new proxy or another way around the block.
While a significant number of online proxies are free to use, some proxies request a monthly fee. Sometimes these pay-to-use proxies are faster to load websites because less people are using them at the same time, and the owner has more money to spend on improving the website. Another con of using free online proxy server websites is the typical display of advertisements. In some cases, the website being viewed is surrounded by ads, which help keep the proxy free. Even so, many people who routinely use a proxy refrain from purchasing a monthly subscription.
A website offering proxy services might also offer similar services, like anonymous email and link anonymizers. Another popular feature of proxy websites is a forum to share ideas on how to stay safe online, prevent identify theft, and browse anonymously. These extra tools and features may or may not be free to use, depending on the proxy.