How to configure a proxy on Windows 10

A proxy is often considered to be synonymous with a VPN. This isn’t true; a proxy is distinctly different from a VPN. A VPN may provide a proxy service on top of the private network that it creates but the two are not the same.

Proxy services

Proxy services are commonly used alongside VPN services but as stand-alone services, they’re used to give users access to certain geographically restricted data e.g., access to a server or website that can only be accessed by users in a particular country.

Generally speaking, proxy services are free and public, or paid and private.

A free proxy server is simple to configure on Windows 10 whereas a private proxy comes with a username and password which the stock Windows 10 proxy settings do not cater to.

Configure proxy on Windows 10

Regardless of what type of proxy you have i.e., public or private, you can use it on Windows 10. That said, using a private proxy i.e., one that has a username and password is different than using a public proxy.

proxy Windows 10

Proxy settings

In order to configure a proxy on Windows 10, you must have;

  • For a public proxy: an IP or server address and a port number.
  • For a private proxy: an IP or server address, a port number, a username, and a password.

Configure public proxy on Windows 10

To configure a public proxy on Windows 10, follow these steps.

  1. Open the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut).
  2. Go to Network and Internet.
  3. Select the Proxy tab.
  4. Scroll down to the Manual Proxy setup section.
  5. Turn the Use proxy server switch on.
  6. Enter the server address and port number.
  7. Click Save.
  8. The proxy is now active.

Configure private proxy on Windows 10

A private proxy server requires authentication with a username and password. There is no setting on Windows 10 that allows you to input the username and password, effectively locking you out from using it.

The alternative is using a third-party app. We recommend using Charles Proxy but it isn’t free. It costs $50. There is a trial version available with limitations.

Configure proxy with Charles proxy

To configure your proxy in Charles Proxy, download and install the app from here. Follow the steps below to set up the proxy.

  1. Open Charles Proxy.
  2. Go to Proxy>External Proxy Settings.
  3. Enable Web Proxy.
  4. Enter the IP/Server address in the Web Proxy server field.
  5. Enter the port number in the field next to it.
  6. Enter the username and password in the respective fields.
  7. Click Ok.
  8. Repeat steps 2-7 but select Secure web proxy instead of Web Proxy (this may be optional depending on your proxy service).

  1. To turn the proxy on, return to Charles proxy.
  2. Go to Proxy>Windows Proxy.
  3. The proxy is now enabled.

Install Charles proxy certificate in Chrome and Chromium-based browsers

Charles proxy is set up but by default, it will work only in Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge. For other browsers, there’s another step to the configuration process.

  1. Open Charles Proxy.
  2.  Go to Help>SSL Proxying>Save Charles root certificate.
  3. Save the certificate with the CER file extension.

  1. Open the Settings for the Chrome/Chromium-based browser.
  2. Go to Advanced settings>Privacy>Privacy and security>Manage Certificates.
  3. In the window that opens, go to the Trusted Root Certificates tab.
  4. Click Import.

  1. Select the certificate that you saved in step 3.
  2. Restart the browser.
  3. Make sure the ‘Windows Proxy’ option is enabled in Charles proxy and the proxy will start working in the browser.

Install Charles proxy certificate in Firefox

Installing the Charles proxy certificate in Firefox is much easier.

  1. Open Charles Proxy.
  2. Go to Proxy and enable Windows Proxy.
  3. Open Firefox.
  4. Visit this link.
  5. Firefox will ask to save a file.

  1. Go ahead and save it. Do not change the extension of this file.
  2. The certificate will install on its own.
  3. Enter your username and password when prompted.
  4. The proxy is now active. 

Conclusion

There are some alternatives available for Charles proxy such as Fiddler but it doesn’t seem to have an option to configure an external proxy. It’s unfortunate that Windows 10 doesn’t support using a private proxy. Some people are of the opinion that it does this for security reasons but there’s no official reason from Microsoft as to why there’s no support for a private proxy.

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