There are a number of ways to change your proxy server settings in Microsoft Windows, including going through the Windows registry with a registry editor tool or using a script to enable or disable a proxy in the registry. If you have a proxy to enable or disable, you can also do so using the Windows Settings menu. For a work computer, contact your IT department if you need help with your proxy server settings.
How Proxy Servers Work
A proxy server sits between your computer and the internet. When you use your web browser or another program that accesses online resources, it sends the request to the proxy server which dispatches its own request to a server elsewhere online. Then, the proxy sends the response back to your computer.
Proxy servers can help speed up your internet connection if they have a faster internet connection than your computer would on its own. They can also cache, or store local copies of, internet resources so that you and other users on your network don't have to fetch them from faraway servers every time they're needed.
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Proxy servers can also help with security by preventing remote computers from directly connecting to yours. They can also be configured to block access to malware and other unwanted content, such as pornography or gambling sites.
Disable a Proxy With Regedit
If you're using Microsoft Windows and you have a proxy server enabled on your computer, you can disable it using the Windows registry editing tool called regedit. The Windows registry is a database of configuration settings for Windows.
Launch regedit by clicking the search box in the Start Menu or the task bar and typing "regedit," then clicking the icon that appears. Navigate within the folders in regedit to "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings."
You should see a setting called "ProxyEnable." Double-click it to edit it. Set it to 1 to enable a proxy server and 0 to disable one, connecting directly to the internet.
Make sure you know what you're doing if you edit the registry, since you can break your internet connection or software on your computer if you make a mistake. You may wish to export a backup copy of your registry by clicking "File," then "Export," within regedit before you make any changes.
Note that, depending on how your network is configured, you may not be able to connect to the internet without a proxy server.
You can also use a registry file or a script in Windows PowerShell or another language with access to the registry to edit your proxy settings or any other registry data.
Disable a Proxy Through Settings
There's generally no need to edit the registry to change your proxy settings on Windows if you don't wish to do so.
You can, instead, open the "Settings" menu from the Start Menu, then click "Network & Internet" followed by "Proxy." You should see a slider labeled "Use a proxy server." Turn the slider to "off" to disable a proxy server.
If you set it to "on," be prepared to type the address and other information for the proxy server you want to use. Contact your internet provider, corporate IT department or whoever operates a server you wish to use if you're unsure of the proper settings.