Proxy Server Hardware Requirements

Proxy servers can speed up Web pages, as well as protect users from harmful content.Proxy servers can speed up Web pages, as well as protect users from harmful content.

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Proxy servers accept and forward Internet requests on behalf of a host. Using a proxy server in front of a host can be done for a number of reasons, including content filtering and location security. The minimum requirements for proxy servers are low, but can vary based on how you plan to use the server.

Minimum Requirements

There are many different proxy server options. However, these servers generally run as programs on a server-level operating system. The underlying operating system therefore dictates the minimum requirements. Microsoft Windows proxy server, for example, uses Internet Information Services on the Windows Server line of operating systems. Windows Server 8 requires only a 1GHz processor, 512MB of memory and 10GB of hard drive space. Squid, one free proxy server, runs on distributions of Linux such as Red Hat or Ubuntu. Ubuntu server edition requires a 300MHz processor, 128MB of memory and 1GB of hard drive space.

Recommended Requirements

Most server software companies offer a list of “recommended” requirements for their software. These recommendations allude to the fact that though the service performs on the minimum requirements, it does not perform well. Slow service on the proxy server means users get a slow Internet experience. Microsoft Windows 8 recommends a processor twice as fast as their minimum, as well as four time the minimum required memory — 2GHz and 2GB, respectively. Four times more hard drive space, or 40GB, is recommended as well. Vendors recommending Red Hat Linux often specify a minimum server hardware requirement. Squid, for example, recommends a ratio for the hardware requirements: 32MB of Ram for each gigabyte of disk space set aside for caching.

Subtracting Other Services

Calculating what you’ll need for a proxy server is easier if your server is dedicated solely to that task. If that server must, however, perform other functions, then you must always calculate the load on your server to include these services. If a Web service running on the same server uses 1GB of memory, then your proxy server requirement must account for the its minimum memory requirements, plus that gigabyte of memory. When possible, it is best to dedicate a separate physical server to the sole task of running the proxy.

The Importance of Scaling

The most storage-heavy functions of proxy servers involve caching. Caching takes frequently accessed websites and stores the data on the server. This begins to speed up the connection for users sharing the proxy server, as data only needs to be retrieved from the local server instead of from the remote server. However, a large body of users creates a large amount of cache. Therefore, disk space is key. As previously mentioned, memory should be available in proportion to the amount of disk space. For a small, home office environment, a modicum of disk space should suffice — 5 to 10GB, requiring only a correlative 160 to 320MB of memory in a Squid environment. As you increase the amount of cache available, you must have a correlative amount of available memory or the service will bottleneck. Proxy servers can also perform content filtering and other on-the-fly services. These services tax the processor more than the disk space, as these filtering decisions need to be made quickly. The proxy server checks each computer’s request against a database of restrictions and denies or allows that request based on what it finds. Though this search takes milliseconds in most environments, a user base of over 10 users can quickly overpower a processor. An overpowered processor appears as a slow Internet connection to users. To avoid the slow connection, be sure to provide as much processing power as possible.

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