Let’s start from general meaning of word 'proxy'. It’s actually an agent/substitute or anybody acting at place of any other. Technically, proxies are used to bypass some firewall restrictions, maintaining anonymity or for many other purposes. Like you can use proxies for accessing social networking sites from your college network which the firewall may restricts.
Let’s understand the common methodology (talking in general terms) You bunk the lecture, requests your friend to speak up your attendance, you get the attendance (in case professor doesn't' detect).
Another example, when college firewall doesn't allow you to connect to a site (say Facebook), You requests a proxy server to bring the web page from Facebook and serve you, Now the firewall thinks you are dealing with a server other than Facebook and allows you to make a connection(in case firewall doesn't detect ).
Hence you have successfully managed to bypass a firewall. Proxy servers simply act as intermediate between your machine and actual server that you are accessing. Proxy servers are mostly used to maintain anonymity. Suppose you are planning to commit an online crime(although you shouldn't) you can use a proxy server. The actual webserver doesn't come to know about you because proxy server is dealing with webserver on your behalf.
Common ways to use proxies-
(1) Setting in Web Browser
1. First of all log on to whatismyip.com and pen down your current IP. 2. Logon to google.com and search for 'fresh proxies' you will get many sites providing you list of IPs and respective port numbers. It must be like this IP :port. Suppose logon to
3. Now copy the IP and port no.
4. In Mozilla Firefox browser, go to Tools->Options->Advanced->Network->Settings. Check the option "Manual Proxy Configuration" , fill IP and port no. You can configure the proxies in any browser.
5. Check out whatismyip.com again, hopefully it must have been changed. Similarly you can configure proxies in other web browsers.
(2)Using softwares and applications -
You can download many IP hiding softwares. They are easy to use and freely available on internet. They automatically keep changing your IP after a particular interval of time. As an example, 'Ultrasoft' is quite easy to use and very effective but then again there are tons of them out there.
(3) Using websites - Many websites (e.g. hidemyass.com ) provide free services to hide you IP address. You can directly visit other websites through them. Although the methods, mentioned above are better for long term, this can be used if you urgently need to visit any website without your service provider or anyone else finding out.