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How Do I Use a Proxy Server?

By A. Rohlandt
Updated May 17, 2024
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Most people use a proxy server to hide their IP address while surfing the Internet, but proxy servers can be used in other ways as well. You can use a proxy server to protect an IP address from being disclosed while using other applications, such as chat or email. Proxies can also be used for bulk mailing or in conjunction with automated Internet software.

The most common way to use a proxy is to use it to hide your IP address while browsing certain sites. You may prefer to do this this to add a sense of privacy to your Internet activity. You might also be required to use a proxy.

In the event a website or forum owner blocks your IP address, the only way to gain access to the site again is to use a proxy server. IP addresses are most often blocked or banned for inappropriate behavior, but Internet service providers (ISPs) sometimes reassign IP addresses, and a user can be banned from sites he or she has never used. You can also use a proxy server to access a service or website that is restricted in a certain country.

Proxies can be used to protect your identity with in chat rooms or instant messaging programs. This is a useful option if you are concerned about protecting your true identity while chatting with other Internet users. Free e-mail providers often have restrictions on the number of e-mail addresses you can have or the number of e-mails you can send per day. Through the use of a proxy server you can overcome those restrictions.

Internet marketers, for example, use a proxy server to send bulk e-mails, especially when using free e-mail accounts or when using an automated mailing program. Automated programs often require the use of a proxy server, since the tasks these programs perform are often repetitive and could get the IP address banned. In situations such as these, you can use a proxy to set up user accounts at various web sites, hiding the fact that a single person is responsible for so much activity.

The use of proxy servers to bypass website rules is generally frowned upon, and some sites use proxy detection to keep users from accessing the site or its services through a proxy server. It is best to read the terms and conditions of a site or service before attempting to use a proxy server. Some sites forbid the use of proxies and terminate user accounts if multiple IP addresses are used to access the same account. One IP address generally represents one Internet user, but some sites will allow as many as 8 accounts from a single IP address.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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