What Is Web Server and Proxy Server?


Larry Thompson

A web server is a software or hardware system that serves web pages to users. It handles incoming requests from clients, such as web browsers, and delivers the requested content back to the clients. A web server stores and manages various files, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images, and videos, which are necessary to display a website.

Types of Web Servers:

There are several types of web servers available:

  • Apache HTTP Server: Apache is one of the most widely used web servers. It is open-source and cross-platform.
  • Nginx (pronounced as “engine X”): Nginx is known for its high performance and scalability.

    It serves static content efficiently.

  • Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS): IIS is developed by Microsoft and runs on Windows servers. It supports various programming languages like ASP.NET.
  • LiteSpeed Web Server: LiteSpeed is highly scalable and can handle a large number of concurrent connections.

The Role of a Web Server:

A web server’s primary function is to provide requested resources over the internet. When a user requests a webpage by entering a URL in their browser or clicking on a link, the following process occurs:

  1. The user’s browser sends an HTTP request to the web server.
  2. The web server receives the request and processes it based on the requested URL.
  3. If the requested resource exists on the server, the web server retrieves it from storage (e.g., file system) and sends it back to the browser as an HTTP response.
  4. The browser receives the response and renders the webpage for the user to view.

Web servers also handle other tasks, such as handling user authentication, managing sessions, caching content, and logging.

Proxy Server:

A proxy server acts as an intermediary between clients and web servers. It forwards client requests to their intended destinations and handles responses from those destinations back to the clients.

Why Use a Proxy Server?

1. Enhanced Security:

A proxy server can provide an additional layer of security by acting as a barrier between clients and web servers. It can filter incoming traffic, block malicious requests, and protect internal resources from direct exposure.

2. Caching:

A proxy server can cache frequently accessed content, such as images or static files. This improves performance by serving cached content directly to clients instead of making repeated requests to the origin web server.

3. Anonymity and Privacy:

Proxy servers can help users maintain anonymity by hiding their IP addresses. This can be useful for bypassing certain restrictions or accessing geo-blocked content.

Types of Proxy Servers:

1. Forward Proxy:

A forward proxy sits between clients and internet resources.

Clients configure their browsers or applications to use a forward proxy for making outbound requests. The forward proxy then forwards these requests on behalf of the clients.

2. Reverse Proxy:

A reverse proxy sits between web servers and internet users. It receives incoming requests on behalf of web servers, balances load across multiple servers, and forwards those requests to the appropriate backend server based on various factors such as server availability and performance. Transparent Proxy:

A transparent proxy intercepts network traffic without requiring any configuration on the client’s side. It can be used for caching, content filtering, or enforcing security policies.

4. SSL Proxy:

An SSL proxy acts as a middleman between clients and SSL-protected web servers. It handles SSL encryption and decryption, allowing the proxy to inspect and filter HTTPS traffic for security purposes.


In summary, a web server is responsible for serving webpages to clients, while a proxy server acts as an intermediary between clients and web servers. Understanding the roles and types of these servers is essential for building and maintaining robust web applications.

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