Saturday , 23 August 2014

Charles: Personal web proxy

Charles is a cross platform application that creates a web proxy that runs through your own computer. Once established it can log details of the connections happening in your computer which helps with identifying problems.

Charles1Installation & Requirements

The setup is very simple and fast. After the installation is over you might also need to allow the program through your firewall depending on your settings. The supported operating systems are Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8.

Interface

Depending on your knowledge of computers and networking, you will either be overwhelmed or satisfied by the interface of Charles. The look is quite plain and all of the information you will need to process is carefully divided between different tabs. Obviously, the application will be used by people who wish to monitor their internet activities, manage their Internet usage or intercept packages so that they can identify and debug any possible errors. The only thing that is turned on by default is the recording tool.

The structure tab shows every package that is handled through your connection in real time. Visit a website and Charles will immediately provide information about the process. The same goes with any application that uses your internet. Collapsing any list will give you detailed information about the structure of the websites you have visited in the right hand panel’s various tabs. The information provided varies from simple networking to more advanced source code and detailed information about the responses between your server and the server’s website.

In the sequence tab you can view even more detailed information about what is going on in your network. Every little tidbit like the connection and the reaction are listed separately. From there, clicking on any item on the list will open a panel in the bottom hand corner that you can scour through for information. Moreover, the information is also presented in the right hand side of the Sequence tab so that you can have a different look on each process.

Other tools provided by Charles are Throttling and Breakpoints. The former will let you stimulate a modem connection in both speed and latency while using your own high speed connection while the latter will let you intercept requests and responses and then decide what to do with them before they go through the system of Charles. You can then execute or cancel each process individually. Both are very handy tools when maintaining a network as they will let you have full control on the network usage.

Pros

-Fast installation with no issues
-Very detailed interface with a lot of information about whatever goes through your network
-Various tools that will help you identify any problems your network might be experiencing and solve them

Cons

-Inexperienced users will probably have a hard time comprehending the various aspects of Charles

Conclusion

If you are working with networks a lot and you are searching for a way to make your problem solving easier and faster, Charles will suit you just fine. The various tools and the detailed information about each and every process will ensure that nothing goes unnoticed and unfixed in your network.

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