Reverse Proxy and HTTP Redirects

Reverse Proxy and HTTP Redirects

As a reverse proxy cache, Traffic Server serves requests on behalf of origin servers. Traffic Server is configured in such a way that it appears to clients like a normal origin server.

Understanding Reverse Proxy Caching

With forward proxy caching, Traffic Server handles web requests to origin servers on behalf of the clients requesting the content. Reverse proxy caching (also known as server acceleration) is different because Traffic Server acts as a proxy cache on behalf of the origin servers that store the content. Traffic Server is configured to behave outwardly as origin server which the client is trying to connect to. In a typical scenario the advertised hostname of the origin server resolves to Traffic Server, which serves client requests directly, fetching content from the true origin server when necessary.

Reverse Proxy Solutions

There are many ways to use Traffic Server as a reverse proxy. Below are a few example scenarios.

  • Offload heavily-used origin servers.

  • Deliver content efficiently in geographically distant areas.

  • Provide security for origin servers that contain sensitive information.

Offloading Heavily-Used Origin Servers

Traffic Server can accept requests on behalf of the origin server and improve the speed and quality of web serving by reducing load and hot spots on backup origin servers. For example, a web host can maintain a scalable Traffic Server system with a set of low-cost, low-performance, less-reliable PC origin servers as backup servers. In fact, a single Traffic Server can act as the virtual origin server for multiple backup origin servers, as shown in the figure below.

Traffic Server as reverse proxy for a pair of origin servers

Traffic Server as reverse proxy for a pair of origin servers

Delivering Content in Geographically-Dispersed Areas

Traffic Server can be used in reverse proxy mode to accelerate origin servers that provide content to areas not located within close geographical proximity. Caches are typically easier to manage and are more cost-effective than replicating data. For example, Traffic Server can be used as a mirror site on the far side of a trans-Atlantic link to serve users without having to fetch the request and content across expensive, or higher latency, international connections. Unlike replication, for which hardware must be configured to replicate all data and to handle peak capacity, Traffic Server dynamically adjusts to optimally use the serving and storing capacity of the hardware. Traffic Server is also designed to keep content fresh automatically, thereby eliminating the complexity of updating remote origin servers.

Providing Security for an Origin Server

Traffic Server can be used in reverse proxy mode to provide security for an origin server. If an origin server contains sensitive information that you want to keep secure inside your firewall, then you can use a Traffic Server outside the firewall as a reverse proxy for that origin server. When outside clients try to access the origin server, the requests instead go to Traffic Server. If the desired content is not sensitive, then it can be served from the cache. If the content is sensitive and not cacheable, then Traffic Server obtains the content from the origin server (the firewall allows only Traffic Server access to the origin server). The sensitive content resides on the origin server, safely inside the firewall.

How Does Reverse Proxy Work?

When a browser makes a request, it normally sends that request directly to the origin server. When Traffic Server is in reverse proxy mode, it intercepts the request before it reaches the origin server. Typically, this is done by setting up the DNS entry for the origin server (i.e., the origin server’s advertised hostname) so it resolves to the Traffic Server IP address. When Traffic Server is configured as the origin server, the browser connects to Traffic Server rather than the origin server. For additional information, see HTTP Reverse Proxy.


To avoid a DNS conflict, the origin server’s hostname and its advertised hostname must not be the same.

HTTP Reverse Proxy

In reverse proxy mode, Traffic Server serves HTTP requests on behalf of a web server. The figure below illustrates how Traffic Server in reverse proxy mode serves an HTTP request from a client browser.

HTTP reverse proxy

HTTP reverse proxy

The figure above demonstrates the following steps:

  1. A client browser sends an HTTP request addressed to a host called on port 80. Traffic Server receives the request because it is acting as the origin server (the origin server’s advertised hostname resolves to Traffic Server).

  2. Traffic Server locates a map rule in the remap.config file and remaps the request to the specified origin server (

  3. If the request cannot be served from cache, Traffic Server opens a connection to the origin server (or more likely, uses an existing connection it has pre-established), retrieves the content, and optionally caches it for future use.

  4. If the request was a cache hit and the content is still fresh in the cache, or the content is now available through Traffic Server because of step 3, Traffic Server sends the requested object to the client from the cache directly.


Traffic Server, when updating its own cache from the origin server, will simultaneously deliver that content to the client while updating its cache database. The response to the client containing the requested object will begin as soon as Traffic Server has received and processed the full response headers from the origin server.

To configure HTTP reverse proxy, you must perform the following tasks:

In addition to the tasks above, you can also Setting Optional HTTP Reverse Proxy Options.

Handling Origin Server Redirect Responses

Origin servers often send redirect responses back to browsers redirecting them to different pages. For example, if an origin server is overloaded, then it might redirect browsers to a less loaded server. Origin servers also redirect when web pages have moved to different locations. When Traffic Server is configured as a reverse proxy, it must readdress redirects from origin servers so that browsers are redirected to Traffic Server and not to another origin server.

To readdress redirects, Traffic Server uses reverse-map rules. Unless you have proxy.config.url_remap.pristine_host_hdr enabled (the default) you should generally set up a reverse-map rule for each map rule. To create reverse-map rules, refer to Using Mapping Rules for HTTP Requests.

Using Mapping Rules for HTTP Requests

Traffic Server uses two types of mapping rules for HTTP reverse proxy.

map rule

A map rule translates the URL in client requests into the URL where the content is located. When Traffic Server is in reverse proxy mode and receives an HTTP client request, it first constructs a complete request URL from the relative URL and its headers. Traffic Server then looks for a match by comparing the complete request URL with its list of target URLs in remap.config. For the request URL to match a target URL, the following conditions must be true:

  • The scheme of both URLs must be the same.

  • The host in both URLs must be the same. If the request URL contains an unqualified hostname, then it will never match a target URL with a fully-qualified hostname.

  • The ports in both URLs must be the same. If no port is specified in a URL, then the default port for the scheme of the URL is used.

  • The path portion of the target URL must match a prefix of the request URL path.

If Traffic Server finds a match, then it translates the request URL into the replacement URL listed in the map rule: it sets the host and path of the request URL to match the replacement URL. If the URL contains path prefixes, then Traffic Server removes the prefix of the path that matches the target URL path and substitutes it with the path from the replacement URL. If two mappings match a request URL, then Traffic Server applies the first mapping listed in remap.config.

reverse-map rule

A reverse-map rule translates the URL in origin server redirect responses to point to Traffic Server so that clients are redirected to Traffic Server instead of accessing an origin server directly. For example, if there is a directory /pub on an origin server at and a client sends a request to that origin server for /pub, then the origin server might reply with a redirect by sending the Header Location: to let the client know that it was a directory it had requested, not a document (a common use of redirects is to normalize URLs so that clients can bookmark documents properly).

Traffic Server uses reverse_map rules to prevent clients (that receive redirects from origin servers) from bypassing Traffic Server and directly accessing the origin servers. In many cases the client would be hitting a wall because actually does not resolve for the client. (E.g.: Because it’s running on a port shielded by a firewall, or because it’s running on a non-routable LAN IP)

Both map and reverse-map rules consist of a target (origin) URL and a replacement (destination) URL. In a map rule, the target URL points to Traffic Server and the replacement URL specifies where the original content is located. In a reverse-map rule, the target URL specifies where the original content is located and the replacement URL points to Traffic Server. Traffic Server stores mapping rules in remap.config located in the Traffic Server config directory.

Creating Mapping Rules for HTTP Requests

To create mapping rules:

  1. Enter the map and reverse-map rules into remap.config.

  2. Run the command traffic_ctl config reload to apply the configuration changes.

Enabling HTTP Reverse Proxy

To enable HTTP reverse proxy:

  1. Edit proxy.config.reverse_proxy.enabled in records.config.

    CONFIG proxy.config.reverse_proxy.enabled INT 1
  2. Run the command traffic_ctl config reload to apply the configuration changes.

Setting Optional HTTP Reverse Proxy Options

Traffic Server provides several reverse proxy configuration options in records.config that enable you to:

Run the command traffic_ctl config reload to apply any of these configuration changes.

Redirecting HTTP Requests

You can configure Traffic Server to redirect HTTP requests without having to contact any origin servers. For example, if you redirect all requests for to, then all HTTP requests for go directly to

You can configure Traffic Server to perform permanent or temporary redirects. Permanent redirects notify the browser of the URL change (by returning the HTTP status code 301) so that the browser can update bookmarks. Temporary redirects notify the browser of the URL change for the current request only (by returning the HTTP status code 307 ).

To set redirect rules:

  1. For each redirect you want to set enter a mapping rule in remap.config.

  2. Run the command traffic_ctl config reload to apply the configuration changes.


The following permanently redirects all HTTP requests for to