The purpose and usefulness of proxy servers has become a well-known internet tool. Using an intermediary between your computer and the “world wide web” is almost a necessary tool in today’s technology-driven world.
According to a 2018 survey, the number one reason that people engage with proxy servers is due to “access geo-blocked social platforms or media content.” The data also revealed that the majority of individuals using proxy servers or a VPN were 25-34 years of age.
Proxy Servers Vs. VPN
While both a Proxy and VPN service will re-route your internet traﬃc and change your IP address, they function slightly diﬀerently.
- Acts as a Web Filter
- Browser Based: Proxy settings are applied to your web browser regardless which browser you use
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
- A VPN service provider encrypts all of your traﬃc and routes all communications through the traﬃc
- The VPN can be easily connected or disconnected with the click of a button
- Everything is routed through the VPN server and there is no ability to choose which applications will get run through your Internet Service Provider (ISP)
- Most home users use proxy servers and not a VPN.
Read more: Proxies Vs. VPN
Why Time-Outs Occur
From time-to-time, you receive a “timed-out” error notice in the middle of your computer screen when using a proxy server.
The purpose of a server timeout is to prevent a device from endlessly waiting for a response. No one enjoys watching that spinning circle on their computer without any result, but there are numerous reasons an error message may pop up.
A server connection timeout usually means that a server is taking too long to reply to a data request made from another device.
Unfortunately, a proxy server connection timeout error message simply identifies that the error occurred and does provides little insight into what went wrong or why the error happened When the server “gives up” trying to establish a connection, it presents the user with a message that the states the task has failed or is incomplete.
No one likes to see the word “failure” on their computer, but remember, you are not personally at fault, so don’t take this error and failure message to heart.
Timeout errors can take place for a number of reasons and may be related to the software, browser or network settings you have on your computer.
- The requesting device, the network hardware and even an Internet connection can be at fault
- The server is trying to connect to a proxy that doesn’t exist
- The proxy server could be oﬄine (this is rare, but it does occur)
- The program could have the wrong address or the address was typed incorrectly
- The proxy service connection settings do not allow enough time to receive a response from the proxy website before the service closes the connection
- Some advertising or spam blocking or content-filtering software is blocking the connection
- The request was blocked by a firewall and router port blocking setting
- The system experienced an “Activation error and Proxy authentication is required.”
Unlike giving a child a time-out with a finite ending time, when the proxy server is unable to connect, there is no pre-determined time for the problem to end. You have to take action on your own to end the frustration.
Most proxy services and servers have a pre-determined time to wait for a response. The majority wait for one minute on the initial attempt to connect and two minutes before it times out.
It would be awesome if there was one simple solution to resolve proxy time outs across all browsers, but regretfully, that is not the case. However, there are some universal steps you can take to try to resolve the problem on your own.
If you believe you have the correct URL for a proxy server, you can try these potential solutions:
1. Check your internet connection…yes, this is a basic task that solves a majority of problems, but you would be surprised how often this check gets overlooked
2. Flush the DNS (Domain Name Servers). The DNS is used by computers to convert web addresses into the IP addresses.
3. Be sure to clear all browsing data including temporary internet files, cookies and
cache (the place where your browser saves copies of previously visited web pages)Check proxy settings to increase the web timeout settings. For example, on Google Chrome , this feature is located under “advanced settings”. On Internet Explorer go to the “start button” and look for “tools”. In Firefox it is under “options. In Safari it is under “select preferences”.
4. Remove unused browser add-ons if you are using Internet Explorer. According to Microsoft, “…some add-ons can cause your computer to stop responding… (so) you might want to disable all add-ons to see if that solves the problem.”
5. Check your device’s firewall settings. You may find that you need to uninstall any website or URL software that may be filtering websites on your computer.
6. Also examine your antivirus settings to determine if the particular proxy site you are using is currently blocked. Occasionally, legitimate proxy servers can be added to the “bad proxy list” incorrectly. But beware! If you unblock all servers, your computer will have less protection against websites that have malware and damaging viruses. Just keep in mind, reputable antivirus software automatically blocks threatening websites, so you will not want to disable this program completely. Specific websites can be blocked for specific users through “site filters” and “forbidden sites”, and sites with specific content can also be blocked with a similar method, a process that is very useful when children and adults share the same devices.
7. Run your computer’s antivirus program to assure any threats that may cause issues
with your browsers are removed. Some viruses can change the browser and proxy configurations, which causes your browser to fail to connect to websites.
8. Uninstall and then reinstall your web browsers to the most updated version
9. Practice patience…if only one website has a timeout issue, that specific website may be down and the host of the site may have to resolve the problem
10. Try another browser. Before you give-up, there may be a problem with a particular browser
Which Proxy Server to Use
One word of caution…Every day, even every hour, new public proxy servers pop-up and some last for only a few days. It is essential that you select a credible and legitimate proxy server that is interested in more than just making money and/or stealing your personal and business information.
You will want to avoid redirecting your entire browsing through unknown proxy servers, especially if you are using passwords. Follow these simple tips to keep yourself and your technology gadgets safe:
- Check the age of the domain. Before browsing with a web proxy site, go to sc , enter the domain name there and see when it was created. If it was created less than two years ago, you may want to be leery of using it. The older the domain and website is the better.
- Privacy. Assure that the proxy server is private to only your IP. If it is not exclusive, it will cause issues down the line.
Finding Suppliers with Reliable Proxies
As mentioned, there are hundreds, if not thousands of proxy server lists. Here are few rules of thumb for you to consider in identifying legitimate proxy servers:
- Do a lot (and we mean a lot) of research before choosing a proxy server. Visit well-known blogs and corporate websites to view their list of top proxy servers
- Reviews from other users are usually brutally honest and are helpful in determining the reliability and honesty of a proxy list
- Learn how frequently the current proxies are checked, how often new proxies are added and if the proxy list is purged for non-operating servers
- Reputable companies oﬀering proxies will almost always have some sort of guarantee such as a 30 day money back guarantee where you can cancel online at any time
- Almost always, paying for proxy servers delivers higher security and discretion
- Trustworthy proxy servers have an easy-to-use customer support department
- Choose a proxy server that can be used from any location
- Investigate the country of origin since many foreign free proxy lists are tagged as inaccurate
- Check the features of the proxy…you’ll likely want one that hides your identity while surfing online
- Believe it or not, some free proxy lists state “use at your own risk.” If this warning appears on anything you intend to download, stop immediately and run away quickly
- If you are computer aficionado, you may want to review the proxies by port number, by country of origin or by proxy type. A reliable supplier of proxy servers may oﬀer this information
Public vs Private Proxy Servers
Public proxy servers also referred to as “free proxies” or “P2P,” look appealing and are tempting. But beware! These free anonymous proxy servers rarely provide a guarantee of privacy protection. In fact, the often the true owners of the listed free proxies do not know they are open to anybody else.
There are hundreds of lists available at no charge, but for the most part, the proxy servers itemized provide little security. Free proxy servers often open up your computer to a host of risks and operation issues including:
- Most free proxies rarely work well and many “die” after just a short period of time. This is the most common reason for public proxy timeouts
- The majority are undependable…they work today and then don’t work the next time you want to use them
- When they do work, they are very slow and cause more frustration than satisfaction
- Public or free proxies often put computers, networks and data at a huge security risk
- The vast majority (if not all) publicly available free Proxy Servers expose your data to hackers and malicious activities
- Public Proxy Servers expose your data to unscrupulous cyber villains who are looking to obtain and sell your private information
Most common when using free proxy servers, proxy hacking occurs when an attacker attempts to steal information from the user.
This form of hacking can be also be used to deliver pages with malicious intent. Proxy hacking can direct users to fake banking site to steal account details which can then be sold or used to steal funds from the account. The attacker can also use the hack to direct users to a malware-infected site to compromise their machines for a variety of illegal purposes.
The Better Option
Private Proxy is a better option. A private proxy, also known as a dedicated proxy, is a proxy that is not accessible to anyone else.
The main benefits of private proxies are:
- The private proxy is dedicated just to you and cannot be infiltrated.
- Private proxies have a fast infrastructure and deliver immediate results when surfing the internet
- A private proxy saves time because you are not competing with other users
- Browsing sessions are private and secure
- This secure, private proxy can keep your information safe and protect against cyber criminals.
- A private proxy keeps your identity and internet privacy safe from the eyes of others
- A private proxy allows you to keep your browsing history secret
- Private proxies are highly anonymous and completely hide your real geographical location and IP address
The choice is yours. For your company of personal usage, there should be no question in your mind as to what type of proxy server delivers the best service and protection.
A Final Word
Reliable and credible proxy servers are certainly available and are used mostly used by networks in businesses. Proxy servers have many advantages, but choosing an untrustworthy site can lead to problems. If you know you are connecting to a trusted proxy server, but receive a “timed-out” message, try our tips to resolve any issues.