What is a Proxy Pool? & How it Works

Plainly, a proxy pool is a group of proxy servers accessed through a proxy provider’s gateway (Central access point or server). In contrast to accessing an individual proxy server using its address and port number, you access a proxy pool using the gateway’s address and port number.

Sometimes, you may have to fulfill authentication requirements before accessing a proxy pool. But once you have access, the proxy pool manager does the heavy lifting, reducing the chances of IP blocks, stabilizing web traffic flow, enhancing your anonymity, and more.

Keep exploring to understand how a proxy manager comes into play as we delve into how a proxy pool works.

What is a Proxy Pool? & How it Works

How a Proxy Pool Works

At the core of a proxy pool is a proxy manager responsible for loading and maintaining a list of available proxies. It logs and oversees all the credentials of the proxies including the IP addresses, ports, and necessary authentication details.

Besides the credentials of the pool of proxies, a proxy manager also logs and manages all the requests and responses. It also helps you monitor and troubleshoot performance issues through logs including proxy used, error reports, status code, and response time logs.

So, proxy pools work by providing you with a rotating list of proxy servers, allowing you to distribute internet requests across multiple IP addresses (Proxy servers). 

When you send a request, the proxy manager randomly selects a proxy server to anonymize and route your request to the target website server. The proxy manager also ensures the response to your request reaches your device without revealing your identity or location.

Here’s a step-by-step look into how your requests reach a proxy pool and how they are handled to help avoid IP bans, ensure anonymity, manage higher request volumes, and more:

1. Configuring your device or application and sending requests to the proxy pool

Before you can relay requests through a proxy pool, you must set up your device to identify the proxy pool and establish connection with it. 

The configuration process varies based on the Operating System of your device. However, the process generally involves updating your network settings to reflect the address and port number of the proxy provider’s gateway.

As highlighted, the provider’s gateway is a single point of access for all the proxy servers under the management of a select proxy manager. You don’t need to access each proxy server individually. 

The proxy pool provider should avail the gateway’s address and port. And, if necessary, you should have access to the gateway authentication credentials.

Other than the use of the gateway’s username/password and authentication credentials, some proxy providers may require you to access a proxy pool through an API (Application Programming Interface). In such a case, you should have the API key credentials to configure access to the proxy pool. 

The API option comes in handy in case you have an application that requires access to a proxy pool. For instance, a web scraping application. 

If you find it challenging to configure your device or application to gain access to a proxy pool, carefully read through the provider’s documentation. 

A reliable proxy provider should provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to use their services, including some sample codes in case you are required to write particular scripts for your application to interact with the pool of proxies.

It is only after successfully setting up your device or application to interact with the proxy pool through the provider’s gateway that you can begin sending requests to the proxy pool. 

2. Forwarding  of the request to the target server and getting responses

After sending a request to the proxy pool, it is up to the proxy manager to choose the proxy server to forward your request to. Then, the select proxy server proceeds to strip your original IP address and replaces it with its IP address before forwarding your request to the target server.

It is through IP stripping and replacement that your identity and location stays hidden from trackers and third party entities on the network.

The proxy pool in question can use either of these proxy server selection tactics to determine which server should handle your request: 

  • Random selection: A simple but effective method to avoid creating predictable patterns. From time to time, the proxy manager pings each proxy to verify availability and then selects the most suitable one.  
  • Round-robin: Involves creating a particular order of the available proxy servers and accessing them in a cyclic manner. This reduces the possibility of overusing a single proxy server. 
  • Performance-based selection: In this case, the proxy manager reviews the proxies’ performance metrics to select a suitable one. The proxy manager can simulate user requests to assess how well the proxies handle traffic. Then, it considers factors like response time, success rate, and load handling to determine which proxy server deserves to handle your request.
  • Load balancing: In the case where too much load is coming through the gateway, a proxy manager has to ensure no single proxy is overwhelmed with traffic. So, it has to assess the load metrics of each proxy before it can assign your request to a less loaded proxy. 

Load balancing enhances performance, allowing a proxy pool to work with a manageable number of requests and decline taking more requests. By declining some requests, the proxy pool can avoid slower response times and failure rates.

Once the proxy manager uses one or more of these proxy server selection tactics or strategies to assign your request to one of the proxy servers, the request is officially forwarded to the target website server. 

The target server processes the request and sends a response to the proxy server, which lets the proxy manager know the response is ready for forwarding.

Keep in mind that the proxy manager constantly monitors the state of each proxy. And in case a proxy fails to respond within a specified period, it should return an error or the proxy manager should reroute your request to another proxy. 

So, it is up to the proxy provider to ensure their proxy manager is failure proof or logs errors to allow for quick troubleshooting. This keeps the proxy pool efficient and healthy and ensures you have a great experience. 

3. Forwarding the responses to your device or application

Before the proxy manager can forward the response to your device or application, it must ensure the response has your original IP address. 

It is the responsibility of the proxy server selected to handle your request to again remove its own IP address  and replace it with your original IP address. Only then will the response packets get to your device.

Closing Words 

And, there you have it! That’s how a proxy pool works. In essence, a proxy pool is a group of proxy servers or IP addresses accessed through a single gateway. Unlike using a single proxy, you get access to several proxies to rotate through and avoid IP bans, enhance your privacy and anonymity, and more.