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Best Proxy Server Software

The comprehensive review and comparison of the most popular proxy server software available on the market. Find the best proxy server solution tailored for your exact hosting needs.

2024

Proxy servers come in a variety of forms, each boasting unique features, strengths, and weaknesses. From the open-source stalwart Squid to the robust and enterprise-ready NGINX, from the user-friendly interface of Caddy to the lightweight and speedy TinyProxy, the options are diverse and can often seem overwhelming.

Whether you're setting up a small web proxy or a large-scale enterprise platform, choosing the right proxy server software is a critical decision that can significantly influence your system's performance, security, and scalability.

In this guide, we provide a comprehensive comparison of the best options available in 2024. Our aim is to help you understand the intricacies of each server, their suitability for different types of applications, and ultimately guide you in making an informed decision that best aligns with your specific needs.

Whether you're a seasoned web server administrator or a novice venturing into the realm of proxy hosting, read on to discover the best proxy server software.

Best Proxy Servers

Most popular proxy server software on the market

Squid

Squid is a robust, full-featured open-source web proxy cache server that has been used by internet service providers to speed up web browsing, reduce bandwidth usage, and improve response times by caching and reusing frequently-requested web pages. Squid also supports a wide array of caching protocols and can be configured to work as a reverse proxy, making it a versatile choice for a variety of network architectures.

Squid
  • Best Used For:
    Caching, Web Traffic Optimization, Reverse Proxy
  • Platforms Supported:
    Linux, Windows, MacOS, UNIX
  • User interface (GUI/CLI) :
    Command Line Interface (CLI)
  • Licence:
    GNU General Public License

Key Features:

  • General Features: Squid is an open-source software, which means it's freely available and can be modified to suit your needs. It has a strong community support and extensive documentation.
  • Performance: Squid is known for its high-speed caching and web delivery, improving browsing speed and reducing bandwidth usage. It also supports load balancing and connection pooling.
  • Protocol Support: Squid supports a variety of protocols including HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, and more. It also supports SSL/TLS for secure connections.
  • Proxy Features: Squid can operate as a forward proxy, caching web content and serving it to users, or as a reverse proxy, protecting servers from traffic.
  • Integration: Squid can be integrated with a variety of systems and is compatible with many web servers and operating systems.

Additional Features:

  • Security: Squid offers a variety of security features, including access control lists (ACLs), SSL bumping, and ICAP filtering. It also supports external authentication methods and can integrate with firewall systems for enhanced security.
  • Configuration & Management: Squid is highly configurable and can be fine-tuned to suit specific needs. It offers a command-line interface for management and configuration.
  • User Management: Squid supports user authentication and access control, allowing administrators to manage user access and monitor activity.
  • Compliance: As an open-source tool, Squid can be configured to meet various compliance requirements, although specific compliance support may depend on the specific configuration and use case.
  • Reliability: Squid is known for its stability and reliability. It has been widely used in production environments for many years.
  • Support: Squid has a strong community support, and extensive documentation is available online. Commercial support options may also be available from third parties.
  • Scalability: Squid can handle a large number of simultaneous connections, making it suitable for high-traffic environments. It can also be configured for high availability and load balancing.
  • Customization: Being open-source, Squid is highly customizable. Administrators can modify its source code to add or change features as needed.
  • Reporting & Analytics: Squid provides detailed logs and reports, which can be used for troubleshooting, user activity monitoring, and performance optimization.
  • Cost: Squid is open-source and free to use, although there may be costs associated with setup, configuration, and maintenance, depending on the specific use case and environment.
Official website: https://www.squid-cache.org/

Træfik

Træfik is a leading modern reverse proxy and load balancer designed for cloud-native applications. It simplifies networking complexity while designing, deploying, and operating applications. Træfik integrates with your existing infrastructure components and configures itself automatically and dynamically. It supports all major protocols and comes with a powerful set of middlewares for load balancing, rate-limiting, circuit-breakers, mirroring, authentication, and more. It also supports SSL termination and can be used with an ACME provider (like Let’s Encrypt) for automatic certificate generation.

Træfik
  • Best Used For:
    Cloud-native applications, Microservices
  • Platforms Supported:
    Linux, Windows, macOS
  • User interface (GUI/CLI) :
    CLI, Web UI
  • Licence:
    MIT License

Key Features:

  • General Features: Træfik is an open-source reverse proxy and load balancer with over 3 billion downloads and 40K+ stars on GitHub. It's designed for cloud-native applications and supports dynamic configuration.
  • Performance: Træfik is known for its high performance and low latency. It supports HTTP, HTTP/2, TCP, UDP, Websockets, and gRPC protocols, ensuring optimal performance for a wide range of applications.
  • Protocol Support: Træfik supports HTTP, HTTP/2, TCP, UDP, Websockets, and gRPC protocols. This wide range of protocol support makes it versatile for various use cases.
  • Proxy Features: Træfik supports load balancing, rate-limiting, circuit-breakers, mirroring, authentication, and more. It also supports SSL termination and can be used with an ACME for certificate generation.
  • Integration: Træfik integrates with every major cluster technology and includes built-in support for the top distributed tracing and metrics providers. It supports service auto-discovery for Kubernetes, Docker Swarm, Red Hat OpenShift, Rancher, Amazon ECS, and key-value stores.

Additional Features:

  • Security: Træfik provides robust security features, including automatic HTTPS, Let’s Encrypt support, custom certificates, and authentication. It also supports IP filtering, ensuring secure access to your services.
  • Configuration & Management: Træfik shines in its ability to dynamically and automatically configure itself based on your services. It also provides a built-in dashboard for easy management and observability.
  • User Management: While Træfik does not directly handle user management, it integrates with your existing infrastructure and authentication mechanisms to ensure secure access control.
  • Compliance: As an open-source software, Træfik complies with the MIT License. It also supports secure protocols and practices to help you meet your compliance requirements.
  • Reliability: Træfik is trusted by numerous companies for its reliability. It provides active health checks and supports high availability and failover to ensure your services are always accessible.
  • Support: Træfik has a strong community support, with over 700 contributors on GitHub. It also provides extensive documentation and resources to help you get started and troubleshoot any issues.
  • Scalability: Træfik is designed to handle large, highly-complex deployments across a wide range of environments and protocols in public, private, and hybrid clouds. It supports dynamic scaling, ensuring it can handle your growing needs.
  • Customization: Træfik offers a high degree of customization with its rich set of configurable middlewares. You can tailor its behavior to suit your specific needs and use cases.
  • Reporting & Analytics: Træfik provides real-time traffic metrics and distributed tracing capabilities. It integrates with Datadog, Grafana, InfluxDB, Prometheus, and StatsD for comprehensive observability.
  • Cost: As an open-source software, Træfik is free to use. However, there may be costs associated with running and maintaining it in a production environment, depending on your infrastructure.
Official website: https://traefik.io/traefik/

HAProxy

HAProxy is a highly efficient and robust software load balancer and application delivery controller, widely recognized for its performance, observability, and security. It's designed to optimize web applications at any scale and in any environment, from on-premises servers to cloud-based infrastructures. HAProxy is the go-to solution for organizations seeking high availability and seamless user experiences regardless of visitor volume or request complexity.

HAProxy
  • Best Used For:
    High-performance load balancing and application delivery in any environment
  • Platforms Supported:
    Cross-platform, supports major operating systems
  • User interface (GUI/CLI) :
    Primarily CLI, GUI available through HAProxy Enterprise
  • Licence:
    GNU General Public License v2

Key Features:

  • General Features: HAProxy is an open-source software load balancer and application delivery controller that offers high performance, reliability, and security. It's widely used in high-traffic websites, mail systems, databases, and more.
  • Performance: HAProxy is renowned for its speed and stability. It efficiently manages network resources, ensuring optimal performance even under heavy loads. It also supports load balancing, connection pooling, and traffic shaping.
  • Protocol Support: HAProxy supports a wide range of protocols, including HTTP/HTTPS, TCP, and UDP. It also supports IPv4 and IPv6, making it versatile for various network configurations.
  • Proxy Features: HAProxy provides both forward and reverse proxy capabilities. It also offers advanced features like content filtering, URL rewriting, and session persistence.
  • Integration: HAProxy is compatible with various operating systems, web servers, databases, and cloud providers. It also offers a robust API for automation and integration with third-party tools.

Additional Features:

  • Security: HAProxy provides robust security features, including SSL/TLS support, access control, DDoS protection, and intrusion detection. It also offers advanced logging for identifying potential security threats.
  • Configuration & Management: HAProxy offers a wide range of configuration options and is easy to set up. It supports remote management and provides a robust API for automation. It also includes monitoring tools and an alerting system for efficient management.
  • User Management: HAProxy allows for detailed user roles and permissions, user activity monitoring, and user bandwidth management. It also supports various user authentication methods and provides comprehensive user log management.
  • Compliance: While specific compliance support may depend on your implementation and configuration, HAProxy can be configured to support various compliance requirements.
  • Reliability: HAProxy is known for its high reliability and uptime. It offers redundancy features and disaster recovery options, ensuring your services remain available even in the event of a failure.
  • Support: As an open-source project, HAProxy has a strong community for support. For enterprise-level support, HAProxy Technologies offers 24/7 assistance.
  • Scalability: HAProxy excels in scalability, offering both horizontal and vertical scaling options. It also supports auto-scaling and load balancing for managing traffic efficiently.
  • Customization: HAProxy is highly customizable, allowing you to tailor its features, performance, and security to your specific needs.
  • Reporting & Analytics: HAProxy provides real-time and historical analytics, offering insights into traffic, performance, and errors. It also supports custom reports and export capabilities.
  • Cost: As an open-source software, HAProxy is free to use. However, enterprise-level features and support are available through HAProxy Technologies at varying costs.
Official website: https://www.haproxy.com/

Varnish

Varnish is a high-performance HTTP accelerator designed for content-heavy dynamic web sites. It's an open-source solution that is best suited for high-traffic websites, offering a significant boost in performance through its advanced caching functionalities. Varnish is highly flexible, allowing developers to write VCL (Varnish Configuration Language) code for the most customized caching rules and policies.

Varnish
  • Best Used For:
    High-traffic websites, CDN (Content Delivery Network) providers
  • Platforms Supported:
    Linux, FreeBSD, macOS, Windows (via Cygwin)
  • User interface (GUI/CLI) :
    CLI
  • Licence:
    Open-source (BSD License)

Key Features:

  • General Features: Varnish is an open-source HTTP accelerator designed for modern web content. It supports edge side includes (ESI) for dynamic content and offers a flexible configuration language (VCL).
  • Performance: Varnish is known for its high-performance capabilities, offering in-memory caching that significantly reduces the response time and network bandwidth consumption on future, equivalent requests.
  • Protocol Support: Varnish supports the HTTP/1, HTTP/1.1, and HTTP/2 protocols, providing a wide range of compatibility with different web technologies.
  • Proxy Features: As a reverse proxy, Varnish sits between the client and the server, caching content from the server and serving it to the client, which reduces the load on the server.
  • Integration: Varnish can be integrated with many web servers like Apache and Nginx, and it also supports seamless integration with virtual environments and cloud platforms.

Additional Features:

  • Security: Varnish provides basic access control features and supports SSL/TLS through separate modules. However, it's typically used in conjunction with other security tools for comprehensive protection.
  • Configuration & Management: Varnish offers a flexible configuration language (VCL) that allows for highly customized caching rules. It also provides extensive logging capabilities for monitoring and debugging.
  • User Management: While Varnish itself does not directly handle user management, it can be configured to work with other systems that do, such as web servers or application servers.
  • Compliance: Compliance with various standards will depend on the specific deployment and configuration of Varnish, as well as the other components of the system it's a part of.
  • Reliability: Varnish is designed for high availability and can handle high volumes of requests, making it a reliable choice for busy websites.
  • Support: As an open-source project, Varnish has a strong community for support, as well as commercial support options.
  • Scalability: Varnish is highly scalable and can handle sudden increases in traffic, making it a good choice for websites with variable traffic patterns.
  • Customization: With its VCL, Varnish is highly customizable, allowing for specific caching rules and policies to be implemented.
  • Reporting & Analytics: Varnish provides extensive logging capabilities, which can be used for detailed analysis of its performance and the traffic it handles.
  • Cost: As an open-source tool, Varnish is free to use. However, there may be costs associated with setup, maintenance, and if opting for commercial support.
Official website: https://varnish-cache.org/

Privoxy

Privoxy is a non-caching web proxy software with advanced filtering capabilities. It is designed to enhance privacy, modify web page data and HTTP headers, control access, and remove ads and other unwanted Internet content. Privoxy offers a flexible configuration and can be customized to suit individual needs and tastes, making it suitable for both stand-alone systems and multi-user networks. It is an open-source project licensed under the GNU GPLv2 or later.

Privoxy
  • Best Used For:
    Enhancing privacy, controlling web access, and removing unwanted Internet content
  • Platforms Supported:
    Multi-platform
  • User interface (GUI/CLI) :
    CLI
  • Licence:
    GNU GPLv2 or later

Key Features:

  • General Features: Privoxy is an open-source, non-caching web proxy software with a flexible configuration that can be customized to individual needs and tastes.
  • Performance: Privoxy offers robust performance with its advanced filtering capabilities, making it efficient in controlling web access and removing unwanted Internet content.
  • Protocol Support: Privoxy supports HTTP and HTTPS protocols, providing secure and reliable connections.
  • Proxy Features: Privoxy provides both forward and reverse proxy features, along with advanced filtering capabilities for enhanced privacy and control.
  • Integration: Privoxy can be integrated into various systems as it supports multiple platforms and is compatible with various web servers and databases.

Additional Features:

  • Security: Privoxy enhances security by modifying web page data and HTTP headers, controlling access, and removing unwanted Internet content.
  • Configuration & Management: Privoxy offers a flexible configuration that can be customized to suit individual needs and tastes, making it easy to manage.
  • User Management: Privoxy allows for efficient user management with its advanced filtering capabilities and access control features.
  • Compliance: As an open-source project, Privoxy adheres to the GNU GPLv2 or later license, ensuring transparency and freedom to modify and distribute the software.
  • Reliability: Privoxy is a reliable solution for enhancing privacy and controlling web access, trusted by a wide range of users worldwide.
  • Support: Privoxy has a strong community support, with resources available for troubleshooting and learning.
  • Scalability: Privoxy's flexible configuration and customization options make it a scalable solution for both stand-alone systems and multi-user networks.
  • Customization: Privoxy offers a high degree of customization to suit individual needs and tastes, including the ability to modify web page data and HTTP headers.
  • Reporting & Analytics: Privoxy's advanced filtering capabilities provide valuable insights into web access and content, aiding in effective decision-making.
  • Cost: As an open-source software, Privoxy is free to use, making it a cost-effective solution for enhancing privacy and controlling web access.
Official website: https://www.privoxy.org/

Polipo

Polipo is a lightweight, caching web proxy designed for personal or small group use. It was known for its unique features such as HTTP/1.1 pipelining, caching of interrupted downloads, and complete support for IPv6. However, it's important to note that Polipo is no longer maintained due to the evolution of web traffic encryption and the diminished utility of HTTP proxies.

Polipo
  • Best Used For:
    Personal or small group use, IPv4/IPv6 bridging, use with Tor network
  • Platforms Supported:
    Multi-platform (Linux, Windows, macOS)
  • User interface (GUI/CLI) :
    Command Line Interface (CLI)
  • Licence:
    Free Software

Key Features:

  • General Features: Polipo is a lightweight, caching web proxy designed for personal or small group use. It supports HTTP/1.1 pipelining, caching of interrupted downloads, and complete support for IPv6.
  • Performance: Polipo was known for its high performance due to its ability to use HTTP/1.1 pipelining and caching of interrupted downloads. However, it's no longer maintained.
  • Protocol Support: Polipo supports HTTP/1.1 and SOCKS protocols. It can also bridge between IPv4 and IPv6 networks.
  • Proxy Features: Polipo can be used as a forward proxy, and it has caching capabilities. It can also be used with the Tor anonymising network.
  • Integration: Polipo can be integrated with the Tor network and can be used as a bridge between IPv4 and IPv6 networks.

Additional Features:

  • Security: Polipo does not have advanced security features as it's no longer maintained. It's recommended to use it with the Tor network for anonymisation.
  • Configuration & Management: Polipo is easy to install and configure. It can be managed through the command line interface.
  • User Management: Polipo doesn't have advanced user management features as it's designed for personal or small group use.
  • Compliance: As Polipo is no longer maintained, it may not comply with the latest security and privacy standards.
  • Reliability: Polipo was known for its reliability, but it's no longer maintained, which may affect its reliability and support.
  • Support: Polipo does not have active support as it's no longer maintained.
  • Scalability: Polipo is not designed for large-scale use, so it may not be suitable for scaling.
  • Customization: Polipo allows some level of customization through its configuration file.
  • Reporting & Analytics: Polipo does not have built-in reporting and analytics features.
  • Cost: Polipo is free software.
Official website: https://github.com/jech/polipo

Caddy

Caddy is a robust, enterprise-grade, open-source web server that is written in Go. It is renowned for its automatic HTTPS capabilities, simplifying infrastructure by handling TLS certificate renewals, OCSP stapling, static file serving, reverse proxying, and more. Its modular architecture allows for extensive functionality with a single, static binary that compiles for any platform. Caddy is also container-friendly due to its lack of dependencies.

Caddy
  • Best Used For:
    Enterprise-level web serving, static file serving, reverse proxying, and Kubernetes ingress
  • Platforms Supported:
    Windows, macOS, Linux, BSD, Android, Solaris, 32-bit, amd64, ARM, aarch64, mips64
  • User interface (GUI/CLI) :
    Command Line Interface (CLI)
  • Licence:
    Apache 2.0 open source license

Key Features:

  • General Features: Caddy is a multi-platform, open-source web server that offers automatic HTTPS. It is written in Go, providing a high level of performance and security. It supports a modular architecture, allowing for a wide range of functionalities.
  • Performance: Caddy is known for its high performance, offering high throughput and low latency. It is designed to be lightweight and efficient, with a relatively low memory footprint. It also supports multi-core processing for enhanced performance.
  • Protocol Support: Caddy supports a wide range of protocols including HTTP/1.1, HTTP/2, HTTP/3, WebSockets, and FastCGI. It also supports both IPv4 and IPv6.
  • Proxy Features: Caddy can function as a forward proxy, reverse proxy, and can handle WebSocket connections. It also supports load balancing and health checks for optimal performance.
  • Integration: Caddy can be integrated with a wide range of systems and tools due to its RESTful JSON API. It also supports custom configuration adapters, allowing for the translation of various config formats into Caddy's native JSON.

Additional Features:

  • Security: Caddy offers best-in-class security with automatic HTTPS and TLS certificate management. It uses modern cipher suites and is written in Go for memory safety. It also supports client authentication and key rotation.
  • Configuration & Management: Caddy supports dynamic configuration through a RESTful JSON API. It also allows for partial updates and efficient reloads. Configurations can be validated before applying, and the current configuration can be exported at any time.
  • User Management: While Caddy does not directly manage users, it does support basic authentication and client authentication for access control.
  • Compliance: Caddy's TLS configuration is PCI-compliant by default, making it a suitable choice for companies that need to meet these standards.
  • Reliability: Caddy is designed to be robust and reliable, with features like automatic certificate renewal, OCSP stapling, and health checks for backends. It also supports graceful reloads of configuration changes.
  • Support: Caddy is backed by Ardan Labs, which provides enterprise-grade support to clients. The Caddy community also offers support through forums and documentation.
  • Scalability: Caddy is designed to scale well, supporting multi-core processing and load balancing. It can also coordinate the obtaining and renewing of certificates in cluster configurations.
  • Customization: Caddy supports a high level of customization through its RESTful JSON API and configuration adapters. It also allows for custom load balancing policies and health check configurations.
  • Reporting & Analytics: While Caddy does not directly provide reporting and analytics, it does support extensive logging of requests and errors, which can be used for analysis.
  • Cost: Caddy is open-source and free to use under the Apache 2.0 license. However, enterprise-grade support from Ardan Labs is available for a fee.
Official website: https://caddyserver.com/

NGINX

NGINX is a high-performance, open-source software for web serving, reverse proxying, caching, load balancing, media streaming, and more. It's known for its high performance, stability, rich feature set, simple configuration, and low resource consumption. NGINX is used by over 400 million websites, making it one of the most popular web servers in the world.

NGINX
  • Best Used For:
    Web serving, reverse proxying, caching, load balancing, media streaming
  • Platforms Supported:
    Windows, macOS, Linux
  • User interface (GUI/CLI) :
    CLI
  • Licence:
    2-Clause BSD-like license

Key Features:

  • General Features: NGINX is an open-source software that offers a rich set of features such as web serving, reverse proxying, caching, load balancing, and media streaming. It is known for its high performance, stability, and low resource consumption.
  • Performance: NGINX is designed to offer high performance and can handle thousands of simultaneous connections with low memory footprint. It uses an asynchronous, event-driven architecture for handling requests which contributes to its performance and scalability.
  • Protocol Support: NGINX supports a wide range of protocols including HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP, POP3, and IMAP. It also supports WebSocket and gRPC.
  • Proxy Features: NGINX can be used as both a forward and a reverse proxy. It also supports SSL/TLS termination, WebSocket, HTTP/2, QUIC, HTTP/3
  • Integration: NGINX can be integrated with many third-party modules for added functionality. It also has built-in support for serving static files and indexing, as well as SSL/TLS support.

Additional Features:

  • Security: NGINX provides a number of security features such as IP-based access control, SSL/TLS support, and limit rate connections and requests. It also supports secure links with MD5 hash.
  • Configuration & Management: NGINX offers a flexible and powerful configuration language that is easy to use. It also provides a command-line interface for managing the server. The configuration includes directives for server, location, and upstream modules.
  • User Management: While NGINX itself does not have a built-in user management system, it can be integrated with third-party modules or systems for user authentication and access control.
  • Compliance: As an open-source software, NGINX complies with the 2-Clause BSD-like license. Compliance with security and privacy standards would depend on the specific configuration and usage of NGINX.
  • Reliability: NGINX is known for its high reliability and is used by many of the world's busiest and most demanding websites. It offers features like fault tolerance, failover, and automatic recovery.
  • Support: Community support is available through various online forums and resources. Commercial support is also available with NGINX Plus.
  • Scalability: NGINX is highly scalable and can handle thousands of simultaneous connections with a low memory footprint. It can be used in a variety of environments, from small servers to large distributed systems.
  • Customization: NGINX is highly customizable with a modular architecture. Users can add or modify features by integrating with third-party modules.
  • Reporting & Analytics: NGINX provides access and error logs for monitoring server activity. More advanced analytics and monitoring features are available with NGINX Plus.
  • Cost: NGINX is free to use under its open-source license. The commercial version, NGINX Plus, comes with additional features and support, and is available under a subscription pricing model.
Official website: https://www.nginx.com/

Apache Traffic Server

Apache Traffic Server is an HTTP/1.1 and HTTP/2 compliant caching proxy server that is both fast and scalable. Originally a commercial product from Yahoo!, it was donated to the Apache Foundation and is now used by several major CDNs and content owners. It is designed to improve response times and reduce server load and bandwidth needs by caching and reusing frequently-requested web pages, images, and web service calls. It also offers extensibility through APIs for custom plugin development.

Apache Traffic Server
  • Best Used For:
    High traffic websites, CDNs, and content owners
  • Platforms Supported:
    Cross-platform
  • User interface (GUI/CLI) :
    CLI
  • Licence:
    Apache License 2.0

Key Features:

  • General Features: Apache Traffic Server is an open-source, high-performance web proxy cache that scales well on modern SMP hardware. It is capable of handling tens of thousands of requests per second.
  • Performance: It is designed for high performance and can handle over 400TB of traffic per day. It is used by Yahoo! as both forward and reverse proxies, demonstrating its robustness and reliability.
  • Protocol Support: Apache Traffic Server supports HTTP/1.1 and HTTP/2 protocols, ensuring compatibility with modern web technologies.
  • Proxy Features: It offers caching, proxying, and filtering capabilities. It can also add keep-alive to content requests or anonymize them.
  • Integration: It provides APIs for writing custom plugins, allowing for extensive customization and integration with other systems.

Additional Features:

  • Security: Apache Traffic Server provides secure proxy services with its support for SSL and TLS protocols.
  • Configuration & Management: It offers flexible configuration options and can be managed remotely. It also includes monitoring tools and an alerting system.
  • User Management: While specific user management features are not detailed, Apache Traffic Server is designed to handle high volumes of traffic, indicating robust user connection management capabilities.
  • Compliance: As an open-source project under the Apache Foundation, Apache Traffic Server is likely to adhere to standard open-source compliance regulations.
  • Reliability: Apache Traffic Server is proven to handle over 400TB of traffic per day at Yahoo!, demonstrating its reliability and robustness.
  • Support: Support for Apache Traffic Server is community-based, with users and developers communicating via mailing lists and a Slack workspace.
  • Scalability: Apache Traffic Server scales well on modern SMP hardware, making it a suitable choice for growing businesses.
  • Customization: Apache Traffic Server provides APIs for writing custom plugins, offering extensive customization options.
  • Reporting & Analytics: While specific reporting and analytics features are not detailed, the extensibility of Apache Traffic Server suggests potential for custom analytics solutions.
  • Cost: As an open-source software, Apache Traffic Server is free to use, making it a cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes.

Nuster

Nuster is a powerful, high-performance HTTP proxy server and cache engine based on HAProxy. It's designed to handle high traffic websites, offering superior speed and efficiency. Nuster supports HTTP/1, HTTP/2, and gRPC, and it's capable of caching POST requests and responses. It's highly customizable, allowing for extensive configuration to meet specific needs. With its robust feature set, Nuster is an excellent choice for developers and businesses seeking a reliable, high-performance proxy server and cache solution.

Nuster
  • Best Used For:
    High traffic websites, caching, load balancing
  • Platforms Supported:
    Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, AIX
  • User interface (GUI/CLI) :
    Command Line Interface (CLI)
  • Licence:
    GNU General Public License v2.0

Key Features:

  • General Features: Nuster is a high-performance HTTP proxy server and cache engine, offering superior speed and efficiency. It is highly customizable and supports a wide range of protocols.
  • Performance: Nuster is designed for high traffic websites and offers excellent performance even under heavy load. It is capable of caching POST requests and responses, further enhancing its performance.
  • Protocol Support: Nuster supports HTTP/1, HTTP/2, and gRPC, making it versatile and adaptable to a variety of use cases.
  • Proxy Features: As a proxy server, Nuster provides load balancing, SSL offloading, and HTTP routing, among other features.
  • Integration: Nuster can be easily integrated into existing infrastructure and is compatible with a wide range of platforms.

Additional Features:

  • Security: Nuster provides robust security features, including SSL/TLS encryption and support for secure protocols.
  • Configuration & Management: Nuster is highly configurable and can be managed via its command line interface.
  • User Management: While Nuster itself does not directly handle user management, it can be integrated with other systems that do.
  • Compliance: As an open-source project, Nuster complies with the GNU General Public License v2.0.
  • Reliability: Nuster is built on the reliable HAProxy, ensuring high availability and robust performance.
  • Support: As an open-source project, support for Nuster is community-driven. Users can contribute to the project and help resolve issues.
  • Scalability: Nuster is designed to handle high traffic, making it highly scalable for growing businesses.
  • Customization: Nuster is highly customizable, allowing users to configure it to meet their specific needs.
  • Reporting & Analytics: Nuster provides detailed logs and statistics, aiding in performance monitoring and troubleshooting.
  • Cost: As an open-source project, Nuster is free to use.

TinyProxy

TinyProxy is a lightweight HTTP/HTTPS proxy daemon designed for POSIX operating systems. It's an ideal solution for environments where system resources are limited, such as embedded deployments. TinyProxy has a small footprint, requiring minimal system resources, and its performance scales linearly with the number of simultaneous connections. It supports forwarding of HTTPS connections without modifying traffic and can be configured as a transparent proxy. TinyProxy also offers privacy features, allowing you to configure which HTTP headers should be allowed through, and which should be blocked.

TinyProxy
  • Best Used For:
    Embedded deployments, environments with limited system resources
  • Platforms Supported:
    POSIX operating systems
  • User interface (GUI/CLI) :
    CLI
  • Licence:
    GNU GPL license (version 2 or above)

Key Features:

  • General Features: TinyProxy is a lightweight HTTP/HTTPS proxy daemon designed for POSIX operating systems. It's an ideal solution for environments where system resources are limited, such as embedded deployments. It's distributed using the GNU GPL license (version 2 or above).
  • Performance: TinyProxy has a small footprint, requiring minimal system resources, and its performance scales linearly with the number of simultaneous connections. It can be run on an older machine, or on a network appliance such as a Linux-based broadband router, without any noticeable impact on performance.
  • Protocol Support: TinyProxy supports HTTP and HTTPS protocols. It allows forwarding of HTTPS connections without modifying traffic in any way through the CONNECT method.
  • Proxy Features: TinyProxy can be configured as a transparent proxy, so that a proxy can be used without requiring any client-side configuration. It also supports being used as a reverse proxy front-end to your websites.
  • Integration: TinyProxy requires only a minimal POSIX environment to build and operate. It can use additional libraries to add functionality.

Additional Features:

  • Security: TinyProxy has privacy features which can let you configure which HTTP headers should be allowed through, and which should be blocked. This allows you to restrict both what data comes to your web browser from the HTTP server (e.g., cookies), and to restrict what data is allowed through from your web browser to the HTTP server (e.g., version information). Note that these features do not affect HTTPS connections.
  • Configuration & Management: TinyProxy can be configured to control access by only allowing requests from a certain subnet, or from a certain interface, thus ensuring that random, unauthorized people will not be using your proxy. With a bit of configuration, Tinyproxy can be made to run without any special privileges, thus minimizing the chance of system compromise.
  • User Management: TinyProxy supports HTTP "Basic Authentication" username and password for accessing the proxy. If there are any entries specified, access is only granted for authenticated users.
  • Compliance: TinyProxy is distributed using the GNU GPL license (version 2 or above), ensuring open-source compliance.
  • Reliability: TinyProxy is designed with an eye towards preventing buffer overflows. The simplicity of the code ensures it remains easy to spot such bugs.
  • Support: TinyProxy developers provide support via GitHub issues and IRC.
  • Scalability: TinyProxy's performance scales linearly with the number of simultaneous connections, making it a scalable solution for various network sizes.
  • Customization: If you're looking to build a custom web proxy, TinyProxy is easy to modify to your custom needs. The source is straightforward, adhering to the KISS principle.
  • Reporting & Analytics: Using the remote monitoring facility, you can access proxy statistics from afar, letting you know exactly how busy the proxy is.
  • Cost: As an open-source solution, TinyProxy is free to use, making it a cost-effective choice for businesses of all sizes.
Official website: https://tinyproxy.github.io/

Compare Proxy Software

Can't decide? Here's a brief comparison table of the best proxy software of 2024.

Proxy Best Used For Strong Points Drawbacks
Squid Caching proxy for web clients, including support for FTP, SSL, and HTTPS traffic. High performance, rich access controls, authentication and caching capabilities. Complex configuration, not as fast as some newer proxies.
Træfik Modern HTTP reverse proxy and load balancer for microservices. Supports multiple backends, dynamic configuration, automated SSL certificate management. Less mature, smaller community compared to Nginx or HAProxy.
HAProxy High traffic websites due to its high performance, as well as security and reliability. Highly customizable, supports load balancing, SSL, high availability. Complex configuration, no native caching capabilities.
Varnish HTTP based, reverse proxy caching for heavy dynamic websites. High performance HTTP accelerator, flexible configuration language. No native SSL support, caching can be complex to set up.
Privoxy Privacy enhancing proxy, filtering web content, managing cookies, controlling access. Flexible, can be used with other proxies, good privacy features. Not designed for high load, high traffic scenarios.
Polipo Small and lightweight caching web proxy. Can serve hundreds of simultaneous requests, supports pipelining. No longer maintained, limited features compared to other proxies.
Caddy General web server use, automated HTTPS. Easy configuration, automatic HTTPS, supports HTTP/2 and HTTP/3. Less mature, smaller community compared to Nginx or Apache.
NGINX High performance web server, reverse proxy, and IMAP/POP3 proxy server. Highly reliable, flexible, feature-rich, dynamic configuration. Complex configuration, commercial features are not free.
Apache Traffic Server Large scale web proxy and caching. High performance, scalable, customizable, supports SSL/TLS. Complex configuration, less user-friendly than some alternatives.
Nuster High performance HTTP proxy cache server and RESTful NoSQL cache server. High performance, powerful dynamic cache ability, disk persistence. Not as feature-rich as some alternatives, no native SSL support.
TinyProxy Lightweight HTTP/HTTPS proxy for POSIX operating systems. Small footprint, minimal system resources, easy to configure. Limited features, not suitable for high traffic scenarios.

Facts and Stats

The most fascinating facts and stats that illuminate the hidden world of proxy servers!

  • The concept of a proxy server was first introduced in the 1990s by CERN. As of 2023, there were over 1.4 million web-facing computers acting as proxy servers worldwide.
  • NGINX, a popular proxy server software, is used by over 34% of all the websites on the internet. Squid, another open-source proxy server, is used by around 87,000 active websites.
  • Proxy servers play a crucial role in cybersecurity, preventing approximately 79% of data breaches. Furthermore, 26% of businesses worldwide use proxy servers for secure and anonymous browsing.
  • Proxy servers are not just for security. According to a report, 38% of VPN and proxy server users utilize these tools to access better entertainment content. Over 2 billion people live in countries where the internet is heavily censored, making proxy servers a vital tool for accessing unrestricted information.
  • HAProxy, a widely used open-source proxy server, can handle up to 2 million simultaneous connections on a single commodity server. The cloud-based proxy server market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.4% from 2022 to 2026.
  • Nearly 30% of all web traffic to online retailers comes from malicious bots, making proxy servers essential for security. Proxy servers are also used by 28% of SEO professionals for tasks such as localized ranking checks and competitor analysis.
  • Apache Traffic Server, a high-performance web proxy cache, can handle over 200,000 requests per second. Proxy servers were used in 65% of DDoS attacks in 2020, according to a report by Nexusguard.
  • Varnish Cache, a popular HTTP accelerator, is used by high-traffic websites like Wikipedia and The New York Times. According to a survey, 31% of internet users use proxy servers for anonymous browsing.
  • Caddy is the first and only web server to use HTTPS automatically and by default. Træfik, a modern HTTP reverse proxy, has been starred over 30,000 times on GitHub since its launch in 2014.
  • Privoxy, a non-caching web proxy, has been providing privacy enhancement features for users since 2001. TinyProxy, as its name suggests, is an incredibly lightweight proxy server, requiring minimal system resources, making it ideal for lower-powered systems.

Proxy Explained

New to proxy servers? We've got you covered.

A proxy server, in the context of computer networks, is an intermediary server that acts as a gateway between the user and the internet. It separates end users from the websites they browse, providing varying levels of functionality, security, and privacy. Technically, when a proxy server is used, internet traffic flows through the proxy server on its way to the requested address. The request then comes back through the same proxy server, and the proxy server forwards the received data to the end user.

Proxy servers provide a high level of control over network traffic. They can be used to filter requests, log traffic, or provide different levels of anonymity. They can also be used to cache content, which can speed up access to data that is frequently requested. This caching functionality is particularly useful in corporate networks, where it can significantly reduce bandwidth usage and costs.

Proxy servers serve a variety of purposes, all centered around controlling and enhancing network operations and performance. They are often used to provide security features such as firewall and network data filtering, network connections sharing, and data caching. In organizations, proxy servers are used to prevent user connections from directly accessing the internet for security reasons. They also provide a centralized point where internet activities can be effectively monitored and logged for audit purposes.

In addition, proxy servers are used to improve performance through caching. They store copies of frequently accessed web pages and deliver this content to users, reducing bandwidth usage and speeding up response times. Proxy servers can also be used for anonymizing web browsing, as they can hide the user's IP address from the web pages they access, providing privacy and security.

Proxy servers work as intermediaries that process requests on behalf of other computers. When a computer on the network requests a website or a file from the internet, the request goes to the proxy server. The proxy server then makes the request to the internet, retrieves the response, and sends the received data back to the requesting computer. This process is transparent to the end user, who interacts with the proxy server as if it were the actual internet server.

The proxy server can modify the client's request or the server's response for various purposes. For instance, a proxy server can change the IP address and other identifying information in the original request to maintain the user's anonymity. It can also cache the response so that, if the same or another user makes the same request, the proxy server can deliver the cached response instead of making another request to the internet.

Proxy servers play a crucial role in enhancing network security and performance. They provide an additional layer of protection between an organization's servers and outside traffic. By intercepting requests and responses, a proxy server can filter out malicious traffic and prevent threats from reaching the server. This makes them an important tool in protecting sensitive data and preventing cyber attacks.

In addition to security, proxy servers improve network performance. They can cache frequently accessed web pages and files, reducing bandwidth usage and speeding up response times. This is particularly beneficial in large organizations where hundreds or thousands of users may be accessing the internet simultaneously. By reducing the amount of traffic that needs to go out to the internet, proxy servers can significantly enhance the overall speed and efficiency of the network.

Proxy servers come with a variety of features, but some of the key ones include content filtering, privacy protection, IP masking, and caching. Content filtering allows organizations to block access to certain websites or content, which is particularly useful in corporate and educational settings. Privacy protection and IP masking features provide anonymity to users by hiding their IP addresses and other identifying information from the websites they access.

Caching is another key feature of proxy servers.By storing copies of frequently accessed web pages, a proxy server can quickly deliver this content to users, reducing bandwidth usage and improving response times. Some proxy servers also offer load balancing features, which distribute network traffic efficiently across several web servers to optimize performance and prevent any single server from becoming a bottleneck.

Furthermore, proxy servers can provide access control, authentication, and logging capabilities. Access control and authentication features help ensure that only authorized users can access certain web resources, enhancing security. Logging capabilities allow network administrators to monitor and analyze network traffic, which can be useful for troubleshooting, auditing, and detecting security incidents.

There are numerous proxy servers available today, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Some of the most popular include NGINX, Apache HTTP Server, Squid, and HAProxy. NGINX and Apache are particularly popular for serving web content, while Squid is widely used for caching and content delivery. HAProxy is renowned for its high performance and is often used for load balancing.

Other notable proxy servers include Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration Server (ISA), the open-source Privoxy, and the Google App Engine's URL Fetch service. The choice of proxy server often depends on the specific needs and requirements of the user or organization, including factors such as performance, security, scalability, and cost.

A proxy server typically consists of several components, including a listener, a request handler, and a response handler. The listener is responsible for accepting incoming client connections and forwarding the client's request to the request handler. The request handler processes the client's request, which may involve checking access controls, modifying the request, or retrieving a cached response.

If the request needs to be forwarded to the internet, the request handler sends the request to the appropriate web server. Once the web server responds, the response handler takes over. The response handler can modify the server's response or store it in the cache before sending it back to the client.

In addition to these core components, a proxy server may also include components for logging, authentication, encryption, and load balancing, among others.

Selecting the right proxy server depends on several factors, including your specific needs and requirements, the size and nature of your network, and your budget. Here are some factors to consider:

First, identify your needs. Are you looking for a proxy server for caching and improving network performance, or do you need it for security and content filtering? Do you need a forward proxy for internet browsing, or a reverse proxy for balancing load among servers?

Next, consider the size and nature of your network. If you're managing a large network with heavy traffic, you'll need a robust, high-performance proxy server. If your network is small, a simpler, more lightweight solution might suffice.

Also, consider the proxy server's security features. Does it offer IP masking, SSL encryption, and access controls? Does it provide logging and reporting features for auditing and monitoring network traffic?

Finally, consider your budget. While there are free, open-source proxy servers available, they may not offer the same level of support, features, and updates as commercial products. Always weigh the costs against the benefits to find the best solution for your needs.

F.A.Q.

  1. What is the best proxy server?

    The "best" proxy server largely depends on individual needs and use cases. However, some of the most popular and highly regarded proxy servers include NGINX, Apache, and Squid. These servers are known for their robust performance, extensive features, and strong community support. They offer a range of functionalities, from load balancing and caching to security and content filtering.

  2. Are proxy servers illegal?

    Proxy servers themselves are not illegal. They are legitimate tools used in many business and personal contexts for various purposes, such as enhancing security, preserving privacy, and improving network performance. However, using a proxy server for illegal activities, such as hacking, illegal downloading, or accessing geo-restricted content without permission, is against the law.

  3. Can my IP be tracked if I use a proxy?

    While a proxy server can hide your IP address from the websites you visit, it's possible for your IP to be tracked if the proxy server keeps logs and those logs are accessed. Additionally, not all proxies provide the same level of anonymity. Some may still reveal your original IP address to the destination server. For a higher level of privacy, consider using an anonymous proxy or a VPN.

  4. Can a proxy be traced?

    Yes, a proxy can be traced. While a proxy server can mask your IP address, the proxy itself has its own IP address that can be traced. Additionally, if the proxy server keeps logs, those logs could potentially be used to trace activity back to you. However, some proxy servers do not keep logs and are designed to provide a high level of anonymity.

  5. Is a VPN better than a proxy?

    A VPN and a proxy server serve different purposes, but in general, a VPN is considered more secure than a proxy. A VPN encrypts all your internet traffic, which provides a higher level of security and privacy. A proxy server, on the other hand, does not encrypt your traffic, and is primarily used for bypassing geo-restrictions and improving network performance.

  6. Which is safer, a proxy or VPN?

    In terms of security and privacy, a VPN is generally considered safer than a proxy. A VPN encrypts your entire internet connection, protecting all your online activity from prying eyes. A proxy, while it can hide your IP address, does not provide the same level of encryption and can leave your online activity exposed. However, the level of safety also depends on the specific proxy or VPN provider and their policies.

  7. Which is faster, a VPN or proxy?

    Generally, a proxy server is faster than a VPN. This is because a VPN encrypts all data traffic, which can slow down internet speeds. A proxy server, on the other hand, does not encrypt data and simply acts as a middleman between your computer and the internet. However, the speed can also depend on various factors such as the quality of the VPN or proxy service, the distance to the server, and the current network conditions.

  8. Why do hackers use proxy servers?

    Hackers may use proxy servers to hide their identity while conducting malicious activities. By routing their traffic through a proxy server, they can mask their own IP address and make it appear as if the traffic is coming from the proxy server. This can make it more difficult to trace the activity back to the hacker. However, it's important to note that the use of proxy servers is not inherently malicious and they have many legitimate uses.

  9. Can a proxy server be hacked?

    Like any server or computer system, a proxy server can be hacked if it has vulnerabilities that a hacker can exploit. This could allow the hacker to intercept and potentially alter the data that is being transmitted through the proxy server. Therefore, it's important to use secure, reputable proxy servers and to keep them updated and patched to protect against potential security threats.