A proxy server provides an anonymous portal for accessing information over the Internet. Many businesses and individuals rely on proxy servers as a means of online protection. In order to use a proxy to access the Web, users must direct their computer systems to the relevant proxy address.
Microsoft explains that most proxy servers form part of a protective shield known as a firewall. Firewalls prevent unauthorized users from entering a network and accessing sensitive data. Some home users also use proxy servers to hide their online activities from others. Computer users configure access to the server via a Web browser's settings portal.