- What is a proxy server and why do I need to use one?
- So how do I find one and get connected?
- OK, I want to have a go, how do I get started?
- Anonymous Proxies & Internet Privacy
Imagine if every time you wanted a new book you had to
write to the author and ask for a copy. You might have to write to New
York, Los Angeles, Sydney or Tokyo. Fortunately we have book shops and
libraries to do the hard work for us. These keep a local supply of the
most popular books from around the world all in one place.
When we ask for a web page, we DO pretty much have to go and ask the author, and though distance is no object over the Internet, it can still take time to reach these far-flung places. So why don't we have local Internet libraries to hold popular web pages from around the world? Well (you guessed it) this is what a proxy server does. A proxy server keeps an enormous cache of the most asked for web pages all in one place and in your own part of the world.
This isn't meant to be a complete guide to proxy servers, but just to whet your appetite, here are few other things they can do for us:
As well as being closer and keeping web pages all in one place, a good proxy server can often dish out the pages much faster than the original server.
- Proxy servers can be used (to some extent) to anonymize your web surfing.
- Specialised proxy servers can filter out unwanted content, such as ads or 'unsuitable' material.
- Proxy servers can afford some protection against hacking attacks.
- Some proxy servers can even translate pages into your own language before passing them on to you.
First, you need to choose a proxy server and there are
potentially 1000's to choose from. Sophisticated use of proxies might
involve choosing a server for accessing a certain part of the web, or
for browsing at a particular time of day. Not only that but, like a lot
of things on the Internet, they are subject to change, going off-line,
becoming unreliable or inefficient, etc. (sounds familiar?). For this
reason, we hope to keep frequently updated lists of proxy servers and
hopefully some recommendations.
There is something of the 'suck it and see' about using proxy servers, and you may decide the benefits aren't worth the fuss, but give one or two a whizz and see if you can see the improvement.
Tools.Rosinstruments.com offers an up-to-date list of proxies, optionally sorted by domain or speed
Another site that offers information about proxies is Proxys4All, although some of the information is very out of date.
Lists of proxies change continally, use the sites listed on the sidebar to find current working proxies
Now you need to enter the host and port into your
browser, but before you start, select and copy the host part of the
proxy listing above, including the port number
Now in Internet Explorer (see instructions Opera
3.6+ and Netscape 4+) look under the Tools menu. Click Internet
Options and from there click the Connections tab, then the LAN
Settings button. Click 'Use a proxy server' and the boxes
will be un-greyed. Click in the 'Address' box and paste the host
address. Don't worry about the port box, if the port is included at the
end of the address Explorer will fill it in for you. Now click OK
and OK again and you're back to the main browser window.
Now the next time your go to a URL you should be connecting to the Web through the server. (You may see the proxy's URL briefly in the Status window.) With a bit of luck you should see an improvement in download speeds on the web.
Anonymous proxies hide your real IP address (and sometimes other information) from websites that you visit. There are two sorts, ones you can use in the same way as the non-anonymous proxies above, and web-based anonymisers.
You can see what information is passed to websites by
visiting an environment checker such as this one.
Using a non-anonymous proxy:
HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR = 220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168 This shows your IP address (first number) and possibly the IP address of the proxy server you are using (second).
Using an anonymous proxy:
HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR = 22.214.171.124 This now only shows the IP address of the proxy
Other resources to check what information is being sent:
Note that it is still possible to obtain information
to obtain IP address, browser version, screen size, etc. To prevent
this information being collected you will need to use one of the
- Disable Java, either totally, or for selected sites by adding them to the list of "Restricted Sites" in your browsers security settings.
- Block access to these hit counters using ad blocking software.
- Use some software that modifies the html before it reaches your browser, examples of such software include:
General Anonymous Surfing and Privacy Resources:FOOTNOTES
Proxy set up for Mozilla Firefox:
Tools menu, Options, General Connection Settings.Proxy set up for Opera:
Preferences menu, Proxy Servers... Paste the full address (including :port) into the HTTP box (which should be ticked). Opera will split the port number into the port box when you close the box.
Proxy set up for Netscape Navigator:
Edit menu, Preferences. Click on the '+' of the Advanced branch to expand the tree. Click Proxies, select Manual Proxy configuration and click the View button. Paste the full address (including :port) into the HTTP address box. No need to fill in port if it is part of the address.
This guide ©2001 and Snokrash for The Scream!