What Is the Meaning of Address & Port in Proxy Server Settings?

By Kevin Lee

Network administrators configure proxy ports and addresses.
i Christopher Robbins/Photodisc/Getty Images

Proxy servers have uses ranging from protecting corporate networks to helping students bypass school Internet filters. You don't need to know much about how proxies work, but you may encounter the terms "proxy address" and "proxy port" while surfing the Web. Addresses and ports are terms you need to understand if you wish to configure your browser to use a proxy server.

Proxy Servers

Proxy servers are like telephone operators. They both accept information and route it to the appropriate location. A network administrator, for example, may create a proxy server that sits between the Internet and an organization's network. The proxy server can then handle all communications between the organization and the Web. Although a proxy server is no substitute for a good firewall, proxies provide some protection from threats coming from the outside world.

Free Proxy Servers

Search the Web for "free proxy" and you'll discover many sites that let others use their proxy servers for free. People who wish to surf privately often do so using free proxy servers. Proxy servers make private surfing possible by preventing websites from determining your IP address. You can begin using the proxy by configuring it in your browser's settings panel. Your browser's help explains how to do that. The information that you enter in your settings panel will consist of the proxy server's address and port.

Addresses and Ports

A proxy's address is simply it’s IP number. Every computer on the Internet or other network has a distinct IP number. If you decide to use a free proxy server, the site that provides it will give you the proxy's address. A proxy’s “port” is a number that refers to a specific virtual location on a computer. Computers have many ports that perform different tasks. When information arrives at a specific port, such as 80, the computer knows how to process that information. Network administrators who set up proxy servers define port numbers and make those numbers available to people who wish to use their servers.


Some people may surf the Web daily without knowing that they are using a proxy server. A business, for instance, might configure all its computers so that they use a company proxy. Microsoft gives an example of setting up a proxy by demonstrating how to enter a proxy's address and port on Internet Explorer. People and organizations that use proxies can get a proxy's address and port from a network administrator. If you cannot navigate to a website after setting up proxy server, verify that you entered the address and port correctly when you configured your browser.