Top 10 Best Reverse Proxy for Linux / Windows / Docker

Top 10 Best Reverse Proxy for Linux / Windows / Docker. Firstly, a reverse proxy is a type of server that sits in between a private network to direct client requests to the appropriate application’s back end server. Primarily, it receives requests and forwards them to the server to provide a smooth network traffic flow between clients and servers. Basically, this type of server is implemented to increase web performance, reliability, and security.

Secondly, A reverse proxy in your network receives HTTP connection requests and serves as a gateway between users and the web application’s backend server. Ideally, businesses with intricate backend servers use reverse proxies to serve data to clients in a seamless manner.

This article dives deep into what a reverse proxy is, how it works, and some of the best reverse proxy servers available in the market. 

Shall we start our article about Top 10 Best Reverse Proxy for Linux / Windows / Docker. Please read on!

How Do Reverse Proxies Work?

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All in all, a reverse proxy acts as an intermediary server by taking a client request and passing it to backend servers. Subsequently, it conveys the response from the server back to the client. After that, the backend server processes the request, which the reverse proxy returns to the client. These proxies work in split seconds to reduce latency.

Basically, a reverse proxy server is best be described as an internal facing proxy employed as a “frontend” to run and secure access to backend servers on a private network. Besides, this proxy is normally situated behind the network firewall. Certainly, also it enables backend servers to achieve anonymity and enhance their security. Moreover, reverse proxy also serves as an application firewall, web accelerator, TLS terminator, and much more.

Benefits of Using a Reverse Proxy

Below are some benefits of using a reverse proxy:

Load Balancing

Popular websites that get millions of users daily might find it difficult to handle their incoming site traffic using a single origin server. Therefore, to solve this, the site chooses to be distributed data among a pool of other servers,  all of them handling requests from that particular site.

In such a case, the reverse proxy provides a load balancing solution by distributing the incoming site traffic proportionately among different servers to avoid overloading any single server. Even, if a server does happen to fail, the remaining operational servers steps up to manage the traffic.


Consequently, reverse proxy eliminates the need for a website or service to reveal its origin server’s IP address. Masking the origin server IP address makes it very difficult for attackers to coordinate a targeted attack against the site. Instead, all attacks are only directed at the reverse proxy, which is better equipped to fight off a cyber attack. For extra protection against bots and hackers, you can put in place a web application firewall on your reverse proxies.


Equally, reverse proxies help in improving performance by caching content.


Encrypting and decrypting TLS (or SSL) communication for individual clients can be very expensive for an origin server. However, a reverse proxy can be configured to encrypt all outgoing responses and decrypt all incoming requests, thus freeing up important resources on the origin server.


Further, a reverse proxy performs multivariate and A/B testing without JavaScript coding or tags.

Top 10 Best Reverse Proxy for Linux / Windows / Docker

In this article, we review the top 10 reverse proxies that are available for Linux, Windows, and Docker:

1. HAProxy

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First on the list of Top 10 Best Reverse Proxy for Linux / Windows / Docker is HAProxy. Well, it stands for High Availability Proxy. Fast, free, open source reverse proxy with top-notch load balancing and proxying capabilities for HTTP and TCP based applications. Also, acts as a TCP proxy and normalizer, HTTP reverse proxy, HTTP compression off loader, and content based switch. Furthermore, it acts as an SSL/TLS off-loader/terminator/initiator, a caching proxy, and much more. In turn, this enables it to provide low latency while providing protection against DDoS attacks.

HAProxy is powered by a non blocking, event driven engine that combines a priority based, multi threaded scheduler with a first I/O layer. This engine enables it to deal with thousands of concurrent connections easily. So, in HAProxy, the proxy protocol forwards the client’s connection information to the application servers. 

The basic features of HAProxy include SSL support, load balancing, monitoring of both server states plus its state, proxying, HTTP rewriting, server protection, statistics, stickiness, logging, and more.

Pros of HAProxy

  • Supports multiple network segments and virtual hosting (layers 4 & 7).
  • Well detailed and user friendly status page.
  • Easy and smooth integration with third party monitoring tools and services.
  • Supports cookie guidance and session retention.
  • High load balancing speeds.

Cons of HAProxy

  • Does not support web server capabilities.
  • Does not support SPDY and POP/SMTP protocol.
  • No support the HTTP cache function.
  • Poor support for multi process mode.


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NGINX is a popular, free, open source server and reverse proxy that also works as an IMAP/POP3 proxy server. For instance, this reverse protocol is best known for its stability, high performance, low resource consumption, and rich feature set.

Similar to HAProxy, NGINX is powered by an event driven architecture. This means it handles thousands of concurrent connections, since it uses its powerful proxy protocol. Supports accelerated reverse proxying using the ngx_http_proxy_module module, which allows passing requests to another server over protocols such as Memcached, FastCGI, SCGI, and UWSGI.

Likewise, NGINX supports fault tolerance and load balancing, which are important elements of large scale computing systems. The ngx_http_upstream_module allows the defining of backend server groups to distribute incoming requests from clients. For that reason, this makes applications more reliable, available, and robust. Additionally, NGINX supports security features such as SSL/TLS termination.

Pros of NGINX

  • NGINX has one of the most consistently written code bases.
  • User friendly configuration format.
  • With NGINX, the user handles several connections since it supports context switching.
  • Enhances the website’s performance.
  • Supports various web applications like Joomla, Python, and Ruby.
  • Allows the simultaneous handling of multiple concurrent connections.
  • It is not highly dependent on network stability.
  • The port features allow for the detection of any internal failures.

Cons of NGINX

  • Smaller community support when compared to other reverse proxies.
  • Only provides support for HTTPS, HTTP, and email protocols.
  • URL detection is not covered by the back-end server health check.

3. Varnish HTTP Cache

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Varnish HTTP Cache is a free and open source caching reverse proxy that also doubles up as a web application accelerator. Built to enhance HTTP functionality by using server-side caching.

Typically deployed between an HTTP web server/application and a client. Each time a client makes a request for resources or information from a web server, a copy of the information is stored by Varnish, so when the client requests the same information, Varnish serves it without passing a request to the web server. For this reason, this reduces the load on the server and speeds up the process of delivering web content.

Varnish Configuration Language (VLC) is a flexible configuration language that allows system administrators to configure how incoming requests are processed, what content is served, and how the requests/responses are altered.

Given these points, varnish extends using Varnish Modules (VMODs), allowing users to write their custom modules or use community-provided modules. However, varnish does not support SSL/TLS. In addition, to enable HTTPS, the user has to deploy an SSL/TLS off-loader or terminator in front of it.

Pros of Varnish HTTP Server

  • One time installation ensures that no further checks or updates are required after installation.
  • Enhanced user experience with fast search results.
  • Supports customization to software which in turn increases performance.
  • Reliability and affordability.

Cons of Varnish HTTP Server

  • Does not support Standard integrated SSL.
  • The cache does not update in real time.

4. Traefik

Traefik is a fast load balancer and HTTP reverse proxy for deploying microservices with support for multiple load balancing algorithms. Interfaces with a wide range of providers, such as Docker, Etcd, Swarm, Zookeeper, Mesos/Marathon, Rest API, and Kubernetes.

Major strength of Traefik is its ability to dynamically and automatically manage its configuration. Significantly, it achieves this by scanning the infrastructure for relevant information and locating which service serves which request from the outside. Providers then inform Traefik, where your microservices or applications are located.

Simultaneously, Traefik supports HTTP/2 and GRPC, WebSockets, HTTPS using Let’s Encrypt certificates, and a REST API. Provides metrics ( Statsd, Datadog, Rest, InfluxDB, Prometheus). In essence, Traefik comes with a HTML based web user interface to monitor events. Supports rate limiting, basic authentication, and retry requests.

Pros of Traefik

  • Seamless Kubernetes integration.
  • A simple and clean user interface.
  • Supports multiple load balancing algorithms.
  • Has Letsencrypt support

Cons of Traefix

  • Not very beginner friendly, and has a steep learning curve.
  • Poor documentation, especially in the earlier versions.

5. Apache HTTP server

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Following choice of Top 10 Best Reverse Proxy is Apache HTTP Server. Arguably the most popular web server in the world. In fact, it be configured to act as a reverse proxy. Surely, Apache web server comes with modules that increase the software’s functions.

In like manner, Apache processes requests and serves the web via HTTP. Distributes traffic across web servers that handle HTTP(s) requests and application servers. Thereafter, Apache HTTP Server is a feature rich tool. Some of its top features include:

  • FTP connections.
  • URL rewriting
  • .ht access.
  • PHP, Perl, and Lua scripts.
  • Bandwidth throttling.
  • Gzip compression and decompression.

Use apache HTTP Server for a wide variety of protocols, with HTTP(s) being the primary protocol. In short, the server is configured via config files whereby modules control its behaviour.

Pros of Apache HTTP Server

  • Updates security patches frequently.
  • The software is open source and free, even for commercial users.
  • The module based structure increases flexibility.
  • Beginner friendly and easy to use.
  • Cross platform as both Windows and Unix servers.
  • Large community and readily available support.
  • Out-of-the-box functionality for WordPress sites.
  • Compatibility with all programming languages.

Cons of Apache HTTP Server

  • Difficulty in handling multiple concurrent requests on websites with extremely heavy traffic.
  • Too many configuration options increase security vulnerabilities.

6. Squid Proxy Server

Next choice on our list is Squid Proxy Server. Open source caching proxy that supports FTP, HTTP, and HTTPS among other protocols. Acts as an intermediary proxy that aids in enhancing response times and reducing bandwidth usage by caching and serving the frequently requested web pages. Generally, squid is a great accelerator that also provides access control capabilities.

Thus, squid proxy works as a proxy cache and has a reverse proxy mode feature that caches incoming requests for outbound data. Access control, traffic optimization options as well as authorization are supported. Undoubtedly, Squid Proxy server also integrates easily with a lot of third-party software solutions.

Pros of Squid Proxy Server

  • Provides improved network security.
  • Offers SSL encryption.
  • Aids in distributing requests to multiple origin servers.
  • Generates reports that you can utilize as input for resource planning, security, and scaling.

Cons of Squid Proxy Server

  • Relatively fewer functionalities compared to other reverse proxies.
  • The data center contains only shared or private proxies
  • Has no live support.

7. Lighttpd

Lighttpd which is pronounced as “Lighty” is a web server software that is built for flexibility, speed, and security. Ideal for diverse applications, dynamic websites, or environments with minimal resources. In truth, Lighttpd provides support for SCGI, FastCGI, and CGI. Meaning you can use this server software in conjunction with applications written in any programming language.

Pros of Lighttpd

  • Supports all programming languages.
  • Handles all requests asynchronously.
  • The software is open-source and free to use.
  • Low RAM usage even when serving thousands of users.

Cons of Lighttpd

  • Lacks most advanced features present in other server software.
  • Limited performance for larger websites as it uses a single CPU thread.

8. Microsoft IIS

Another of Top 10 Best Reverse Proxy is Microsoft IIS. Of course, a web server software developed by Microsoft for the Windows system. In addition, Microsoft IIS is a secure and flexible server thatis used to host web applications and services. Unlike other reverse proxies, Microsoft IIS has a unique design. Server features are managed as standalone points. On balance, this means you can easily add, remove, or replace them as you want.

Since you choose a certain set of server features, it’s possible to create a custom reverse proxy unique to your business needs. This type of architecture provides multiple benefits as it addresses specific business needs. Removing unnecessary features reduces memory usage and enhances server performance.

Pros of Microsoft IIS

  • Highly extensible web server.
  • Seamless integration with other Microsoft products.
  • Leverages the full power of ASP.NET.
  • Has a great developer experience.
  • Low memory footprint and improves performance.
  • Secures the server by reducing the surface area of attacks.

Cons of Microsoft IIS

  • Configuring IIS reverse proxy requires advanced Microsoft development skills.
  • You can only use with Windows OS.

9. Apache Tomcat

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Apache Tomcat is an open source implementation of Java Server Pages, Java Servlet, Java WebSocket technologies, and Java Expression language. Well, it acts as a matured Java servlet container. Container helps install various Java enterprise specifications such as JavaServer Pages (JSP).

Pros of Apache Tomcat

  • Free and open source.
  • Regular updates to patch any vulnerabilities. 
  • Runs several web applications on different ports.
  • Use Apache Tomcat use on multiple operating systems.

Cons of Apache Tomcat

  • Low speeds when working with static pages.
  • Problems with installations.
  • Has a poor user interface

10. HashiCorp Consul

Last on the list of Top 10 Best Reverse Proxy for Linux / Windows / Docker is HashiCorp Consul. To illustrate it is a data center aware solution designed to connect and configure applications across distributed and dynamic infrastructure. Basically, it acts as a reverse proxy for Docker applications.

Consuls’ main features include:

  • Service Mesh- This feature allows secure service-to-service communication with identity-based authorization and automatic TLS encryption.
  • Multi Data Center– Consul supports multiple regions without complicated configurations.
  • Health Checking– This enables the Consul to warn operators about any issues present in a cluster.

Pros of Hashicorp Consul

  • Allows for easy and quick viewing of the status of your services.
  • Consul offers convenient APIs that enable you to automate tasks.
  • Seamless integration with other HashiCorp tools.
  • Consul has service mesh capabilities that simplify the process of connecting and managing microservices.

Cons of Hashicorp Consul

  • Relatively expensive.
  • Complex with steep learning features.
  • Limited features compared to popular proxies like NGINX.

Thank you for reading this article about Top 10 Best Reverse Proxy for Linux / Windows / Docker. We shall conclude. 

Top 10 Best Reverse Proxy for Linux / Windows /Docker Conclusion

These are just a few of the best reverse proxies for Windows, Linux, or Docker. With any of these tools, you are sure of fast server requests as they deliver high performance and low latency. Therefore, you should choose a proxy server that works best for your websites or web applications. Keep in mind that the choice of reverse proxy affects most components of your network.

Avatar for Dennis Muvaa
Dennis Muvaa

Dennis is an expert content writer and SEO strategist in cloud technologies such as AWS, Azure, and GCP. He's also experienced in cybersecurity, big data, and AI.

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