When you visit any website, you are sharing an incredible amount of information. Any click can let others know your physical location, the type of device you used to access the Internet, what site you visited just prior, and even what type of browser you used. Proxies are a great way to protect your online identity.
What Are Proxies?
A proxy server acts as a protective shell around any information you send or receive online. Proxies work by providing an inaccurate depiction of your location, essentially masking your identifying features. Proxies have a primary practical purpose: to keep Internet users’ identities safe. For many, a proxy is a way to ensure confidential connections, such as when accessing and transferring sensitive business files.
Proxy servers act as a technology that provides a tunnel from one computer to another. When a user connects to a proxy server, the user’s actual IP address, a unique identifier showing the location of an online device, is hidden. When a user requests information from another server, the proxy server acts as an intermediary, providing access to the sought-after information.
Why Does Using a Proxy Matter?
If you want to keep your web activity private, especially when downloading, proxies are an effective way to protect yourself. On an open connection without proxy protection, you share more information than you might realize.
Software programs let website owners learn the locations of the devices used via your IP address. These programs also reveal the kind of devices you used, what service providers you used, and which sites you came from. If you visited a particular site after clicking on an email link, a page link, a banner ad, or you typed the URL into your address bar, the site owner knows that information too.
Even worse, visiting some sites installs cookies on your device. Granted, cookies can be helpful, but they can also used to capture even more information about you, possibly opening you up to attacks by malware. By using a proxy connection, those issues are virtually wiped out.
Why Do People Use Proxy Servers?
There are all kinds of reasons for using a proxy. Maybe you want to keep your digital footprint small and not give sites information about your browsing and computing habits. Maybe you want to download information, music, or videos without running up against ISP limits on downloaded data. Whatever the reason, using a proxy is an important tool in maintaining your privacy while staying within the guidelines.
How to Use a Proxy for Safer Internet Surfing
There are a number of free proxy sites available, but download speeds can be slow. Be sure to find sites that have a good reputation. Some of those free sites, and many others, offer a paid option that promises faster download times and extra features.
Once on a proxy website, simply enter the name of the website you wish to visit. Your browser window will show the proxy site address with an add-on and an encrypted alphanumeric link to the site you’re visiting. Within the browser window, most proxy browsers include an address bar that lets you surf from site to site without returning to the proxy home page.
If you regularly need to download large files from the Internet, using a proxy server is an effective and easy way to get the files you need while protecting your identity from those who may wish to do you harm.
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