Ways to setup Squid proxy server and helpful tips

May 27, 2021 | Daniel Martin

This blog was written by an independent guest blogger.

A squid proxy server has two major functions. First, it is an intermediary proxy. Second, it provides cache services for popular network protocols including HTTP and FTP. The use of proxies and cache services makes up a better internet user experience.

Proxies provide added layers of security and cache services that make loading processes faster. Obviously, getting both services from a single provider is highly efficient.

What is a Squid proxy server?

Squid is a Unix-based proxy server that can do both caching and proxying. It can cache any web content to the user or requestor that is from a closer data storage point. It frequently caches large media files and web pages to reduce bandwidth congestion. Thus it decreases loading periods.

Squid supports several caching protocols, such as hypertext caching protocols (HTCP), internet cache protocol (ICP), cache array routing protocol (CARP), and web cache communication protocol (WCCP). It also processes caching requests from Domain Name Server (DNS) lookups and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

You wouldn’t want to miss enjoying the benefits of Squid proxy servers. Here are some ways to set the server up along with tips to maximize your use out of it.

Ways to setup a Squid proxy server

Squid proxy servers are usually installed in a separate server from the servers with the original content.

The first thing to do is to update your server to install the squid proxy server. Check if the server is running by checking its status in the code, before starting to configure the system.

Adding allowable sites

In the configuration process, you sift through the sites that are allowable through the intermediary web proxy. These sites are considered as part of your ACL or access control list. These are the only sites that the Squid server will proxy and cache data for.

Go through the list of acceptable websites and input in the code. Once all of these are encoded in, restart the proxy and check the status afterward.

It’s safe to include an open port in the control list. The open port acts as the passageway for the other sites that were not defined and placed under the list.

Blocking websites

As much as you can configure the server to include sites to process, you can also block access to several websites.

In order to carry out this requirement, create a folder under the access command list that will hold all the restricted sites. Limiting internet access is one of the prominent uses of proxy servers, in general.

After listing the blocked or restricted sites, a prompt will appear in the code. Aside from blocked sites, you can also create a list of blocked keywords. Many companies configure their proxies to block access to several social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Once the list is finalized, make sure to save the file and restart the proxy to confirm.

Configuring additional authentication

To install an added layer of protection in your Squid proxy, install httpd-tools. This lets you create a password for the proxy. Make sure to assign the proxy server as the file owners. Otherwise, your access will be restricted as well.

You can also add a pxuser using htpasswd utility. This calls for a different and much stronger password. Make sure not to forget this username and password. This will be used to authorize all proxy connections later on.

Helpful tips to note

First of all, every time you change or configure the components of the proxy server, make a copy of the original file. Much like editing an article or creating digital art, it’s important to have layers or to keep the previous copies to note the differences.

In this manner, if something goes wrong after the attempted configuration, you can easily pull out and use the previous code. Aside from that, you can also do some troubleshooting by comparing the old and new code. It’s easy to point out the differences or the mistakes done in the newer version.

You need to input a command to keep the original file before configuration.

The next tip is to remember to constantly rotate the log files. Rotating large files leads to better proxy performance.

Also, always be careful in labeling your ACL. A proxy will not process or allow any domain that shares a name with another. This measure, however demanding it may seem, provides an added layer of protection. More than that, it supports the Squid proxy in carrying out one of its main tasks.

Another tip that helps improve the loading time of content is that you can configure the Squid proxy server to limit the downloadable file size. The configuration must state the maximum allowable size. Any file larger than that will not be processed by the server. The limit is applicable to all users and all file types. However, the limit can also be specified per user.

This method of limiting the downloadable size is a common practice in office set-ups that share servers. It is one way of decongesting the bandwidth and increasing the performance of the server for all users.

In the same manner, the proxy server can also limit the maximum size for uploading files.

Since caching is one of the main tasks of Squid proxies, it is designed to automatically cache the data of the websites under the ACL. But if some of the sites under the list do not need caching, you can exempt them from the process. You can pinpoint the websites to not cache their data regularly.

All you need to do is create a file under the access list and label it as no_cache domain. Once set, configure and restart the system.

Conclusion

The use of web proxies is getting more prevalent as more users are discovering its benefits. From added online security to a better internet experience, proxies are becoming more in demand even to individual and casual users.

Squid proxies, in particular, appeal to users who want the two-in-one deal that it provides. It’s not only an efficient proxy server, it’s a dependable caching tool, too. There’s no need to install separate servers to gain the benefits of a single Squid proxy.

Daniel Martin

About the Author: Daniel Martin

Dan has hands-on experience in digital marketing since 2007. He has been building teams and coaching others to foster innovation and solve real-time problems. Dan also enjoys photography and traveling.

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