Ever wish you were on a different continent? A proxy server can grant that wish right now, sort of. It’s a tech trick we can only dream of using in real life, like Ctrl+Z. But unlike Ctrl+Z, proxies are fiddly blighters. Read our set up a proxy server windows.
Proxies have similar benefits to VPNs. Browse anonymously; watch BBC iPlayer in Spain; buy US-only Amazon items from the comfort of your spare room in Warrington, that kind of thing. But they achieve it in different ways. A VPN shrouds and encrypts your entire network, while a proxy is more ad-hoc. It redirects a particular “request” (typing a URL or clicking a link) through a server in a different country, so your target website thinks that’s where you are.
Grab a US proxy IP address, point Windows at it and – alakazam! – the internet thinks I’m in Wyoming
Proxies tend to be less secure and less reliable than VPNs, but at least they’re usually free, while VPNs come riddled with hidden “freemium” charges. And once set up, proxies are quicker to use than VPNs. Besides, the point of this column is to give me a blinding headache once a fortnight, and setting up a proxy will certainly do that.
A quick search for ‘public proxy’ finds thousands of IP addresses you can plug straight into your Windows 10 Proxy Settings to spoof your location (here’s a list: https://www.proxynova.com/proxy-server-list/). Let’s say I want to watch Netflix’s music documentary ReMastered, currently
US-only. (Purely hypothetical. I’d never do such a thing.) I’d grab a US proxy IP address, point Windows at it and – alakazam! – the internet thinks I’m somewhere in Wyoming.
Er, except it doesn’t. It thinks I’m being hacked. “Attackers might be trying to steal your information”, screams Chrome. I tried again with a French proxy, then again with a Kazakh proxy, and got the same message. Chrome is right to worry. Public proxies are frequently targeted by hackers. Private proxies are more reliable and, well, private. So let’s try that.
The full DIY option is to get a spare working computer, install proxy software and then funnel all your internet activity through it. But I don’t have a spare working computer. So, onto the semi-DIY option: sign up for free web space and use that as my spare computer.
I settled on Hostinger’s freebie 000WebHost (www.000webhost.com) and chose a domain (‘http://ewykh.000webhostapp.com’, catchy). I rather hoped I could then point Windows 10 at the address and tell it to use it as a proxy, but of course it’s not that simple. Web hosts don’t want you using their backyard for proxy hijinks. Many expressly forbid it, and they certainly don’t build in the necessary tools.
You can add the necessary tools, but you really shouldn’t, so here’s what not to do. I downloaded the open- source proxy script GlypeProxy
The quickest way to spoof your location is to use a ready-made proxy like HideMe
, uploaded the ZIP to my hosting account, then extracted and copied the files to my site’s root folder. In theory, that should trigger my domain to open with a GlypeProxy page that behaves like a private version of a proxy website (for example HideMe, which automatically re-routes you through an available proxy server).
In practice, I couldn’t get it to work in the limited time I had to write this column. A few more hours of tinkering would trick my web host into letting me run the proxy software.
Truth is, I don’t want to. It’s been an interesting exercise but I’m not comfortable abusing my host’s web space, and it’s not worth the hassle when so many sites like HideMe are happy to do the work for you, for free. Or, you know, you could just use a VPN.