Is an ISP or institution blocking you from viewing online content? Yes, it’s frustrating. Thankfully you’re clever enough to know about proxies. The problem can be easily avoided by using a proxy server with your browser.
Firefox has basic proxy capabilities built right in. In the Connection Settings menu you can set up Firefox to auto-detect proxy settings used by your network, use system settings or manually enter an IP address. Supported server types include HTTP, SSL, FTP, Gopher and SOCKS (v4 or v5). We’ll be looking at using the manual options here.
Let’s get to the step-by-step instructions shall we?
Launch Firefox by double-clicking the Firefox icon on your desktop or by selecting it from the Start menu.
In the top menu, go to “Tools” then click on “Options.”
Click on the “Advanced” icon that looks like a cog on the top-right. Contextual options will appear in the window below.
Select the “Network” tab then click on the “Settings” button on the right.
Click on the radio button next to “Use system proxy settings”. The text boxes below will now become active, allowing you to enter a proxy server IP address.
Copy and paste the server address into the appropriate box. If you don’t know what type to choose start with HTTP Proxy first as it is the most common. Don’t assume you have selected the wrong type if it doesn’t work. Dead proxy servers are about as common as brown leaves on an autumn day.
Looking for free proxy servers to test? Try the lists on one of the sites below.
A Few Tips for Newcomers
There are slews of proxy sites popping up at the time. Annoyingly many of the servers on free proxy lists are either painfully slow or don’t work. To make matters worse, public lists are abused by spammers, so these IP addresses may be already banned on the site you’re trying to view.
If you’re having trouble finding fresh proxies, consider using a Firefox add-on like FoxyProxy or Tor. Both automatically search for working proxies and offer more robust options that the native menus in Firefox. These solutions can also slow down to a crawl, so keep in mind that fast proxies servers don’t come for free. For best results, subscribe to a VPN service.
Note on Firefox Versions
This guide is confirmed to work with Firefox 2.x and 3.x. Mozilla typically doesn’t change the user interface substantially over time, so this method will likely be the ticket for a long while.
Never use a proxy server with a machine that doesn’t have virus software installed. Protect yourself and your data by downloading something like AVG Free or Trend Micro Internet Security. Be sure to have the latest virus definitions as well.