Forward Proxy vs Reverse Proxy

Mohak Puri
Sep 9, 2019 · 2 min read

Going through some system design videos, I realized that I have been using the term Proxy incorrectly all this time. So let’s quickly discuss it so that you don’t make the same mistake.

Credits: Google

TLDR;

The position of a proxy — is what makes a proxy either a forward or reverse proxy. The easiest way to remember the difference between these two proxy is -

Forward proxy is used by clients where as Reverse proxy is used by servers

Forward Proxy

Forward Proxy

Whenever a request is made by a client, it must pass through the forward proxy before reaching the server. Since the forward proxy acts as a ‘client’ for every request, the server is only aware of the forward proxy and not the original clients.

The best example of how a forward proxy can help you is by bypassing a network block. Rather than directly connecting to the server, you connect via a forward proxy.

Reverse Proxy

In case of a reverse proxy, the clients are unaware of the actual servers. Every request is directed to reverse proxy which handles all the communications from thereafter. A reverse proxy acts as a gateway for your backend, hiding all other servers.

Some of the uses cases for a reverse proxy includes authentication and caching. It also increases security since the clients are only aware of the reverse proxy.

Reverse proxies are not exactly load balancers. It is completly ok to have a single server behind a reverse proxy

That’s about it! Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the article.

You can also follow me on Medium and Github. 🙂

Mohak Puri

Written by

Product Engineer GO-JEK | GSoC 2018 @openMF | Mobile | Backend | mohak1712 everywhere

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