WWW FAQs: How do I know what proxy server I am supposed to use?

2005-08-10: Various programs, such as web browsers and audio players, may prompt you for information about a proxy server. A proxy server is a specialized web server that contacts other web servers for you, so that you never communicate with them directly. 99% of users do not need to set up a proxy server directly. That's because most modern routers and firewalls automatically route connections between you and Internet web servers without the need for a traditional web proxy server. Or they may use one, but do so transparently without your browser or audio player needing to be directly aware of it.

If you are connecting to the Internet from home, you don't need a proxy server. In general, if you're not sure if you need a proxy server, you probably don't. One exception: sometimes organizations configure Internet Explorer to find the proxy server automatically by consulting a server in the IT department. In that case you could need a proxy server for Firefox or an audio/video player application, without knowing it. If you suspect this is the case, consult your local system administrator to find out what the correct proxy server settings are. Often Internet Explorer has been configured to pick this information up automatically from a server in your organization's IT department, but Firefox does not take advantage of that information.

If you are dialing into a company VPN (Virtual Private Network) from home, then you need to use exactly the same proxy server settings as users working in the office do -- if they use any proxy at all, that is. If this doesn't make any sense to you, you're not using a VPN.

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