A proxy or proxy server is an intermediary between a computer/web client and a web server. It stops direct communication between the two entities, and in doing so, assigns outgoing web traffic from the computer a new IP address. Various types of proxies assign new IP addresses differently. For instance, rotating proxies either give each web request a unique IP address or change the assigned IP address every few minutes.
Nonetheless, regardless of whichever type you choose, the bottom line is proxy servers will enhance your security, privacy, and online anonymity, entirely by masking your real IP address. And that’s not all. The benefits of proxies are listed below.
Benefits of Proxy Servers
Proxy servers are beneficial because:
- They provide anonymity, security, and privacy.
- They facilitate web scraping.
- They block access to certain websites, thereby promoting productivity in the workplace.
- They prevent server crashes by distributing traffic among multiple servers.
- They increase connection speeds by caching frequently accessed files, thereby freeing the bandwidth for other more critical operations.
- They filter content that can be stored on local computers or uploaded onto servers.
- They monitor emails, hence preventing malware, ransomware, or spyware attacks.
To enjoy these benefits, you can either pay for a proxy server subscription from a service provider or configure your browser, subsequently making it a proxy. The second option is advantageous because it saves you money on top of ensuring that you enjoy many of the benefits listed above. In this article, we’ll detail the various Chrome and Firefox proxy settings you should modify to convert your preferred web client into a proxy server.
How to Set Up a Proxy in Firefox and Google Chrome
Firefox Proxy Settings
To configure your Firefox browser, follow the procedure below:
- Click the Open menu button and click Options (on Windows) or Preferences (on macOS)
- On the Preference tab, scroll to the Network Settings ribbon and click Settings
- The resultant menu will give you five options, i.e., No proxy, Auto-detect proxy settings for this network, Use system proxy settings, Manual proxy configuration, and Automatic proxy configuration URL. Below is a breakdown of what each option means:
- No proxy: Firefox won’t use any proxy server
- Auto-detect proxy settings for this network: Firefox will use the Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Protocol (WPAD) method to identify a suitable proxy
- Use system proxy settings: Firefox chooses this option by default. With this option, the browser uses the proxy that has been set up on your operating system.
- Manual proxy configuration: If you choose this option, you will have to populate the fields using your service provider’s information.
- Automatic proxy configuration URL: If you have your service provider’s web address, type it in the box shown under this option.
- Upon clicking OK, you will have essentially set up a proxy on your Firefox browser.
Find here an in-depth guide on how to configure a proxy server in Firefox.
Unlike the Firefox proxy settings, Chrome does not allow you to configure the application itself. Instead, it opens Window’s Internet Options on Windows 10. In this regard, if you are using the latest version of Windows, all you need to do is to follow instructions on how to set up a proxy server on your operating system, and voila! Chrome will be configured as well. That said, here is the procedure:
- Click the Customize and control Google Chrome button, and on the drop-down menu, click Settings, which will open a new tab.
- Scroll down the various options on the Settings tab, click Advanced, and click Open your computer’s proxy settings under the System ribbon. This will open the Settings window on Windows, and specifically, the Proxy tab.
- On the Proxy tab, you can select either Automatic proxy setup or Manual proxy setup.
- Before selecting the Automatic proxy setup, you must have a few proxy addresses, which you will subsequently key in when prompted. Usually, these proxy addresses belong to proxy service providers and are in URL form. Once you choose your desired provider, enable the Automatically detect settings button and switch on the Use setup script button. Key in your provider’s URL when prompted to type the Script Address.
- If you opt to use the Manual proxy setup, ensure that the Use setup script button under the Automatic proxy setup is turned off. Then obtain a specific port and IP address for the server you intend to use and type them into the Address and Port fields. After that, check the Don’t use the proxy server for local (intranet) addresses box and hit save.
While the steps may be straightforward, you should be careful when entering the information your proxy service provider gives you when setting up a proxy on Chrome or using Firefox proxy settings. This will help you avoid connecting to the wrong server or frustrations.