Do you mean you want to use FMP (not FMS) as the server/host?
Correct. If possible, I want to use FileMaker Pro on the server, as the host.
Short version: Yes, you can do this.
Longer version: Not a good idea. I understand the desire to save money for a small organization. However, you're giving up a lot by trying to use Pro as a server in a peer-to-peer environment.
1) Automated backups. Not only do you give up FMS's backup protocols, you'll have to turn off any automatic backups Windows provides (or any third-party tools) on the databases you're hosting. If you don't, you WILL, at some point, corrupt the databases. That means you'll have to shut the databases down, back them up manually, then turn them back on. What a pain.
2) Security. Peer-to-peer sharing is nowhere near as secure as FMS, for lots of reasons (no SSL, no Active Directory for accounts management, etc.).
3) Client management. With Server, you have logging, an admin console and other tools that tell you who's logging in, who's currently attached, what actions have been taken on the databases, etc. You can manually disconnect a specific client, if needed. None of that is available in a peer-to-peer environment.
4) Server-side scripting. Lots of automation can be done using the server-side scripting processes. You can do some things treating the Pro host as a robot, but not nearly as much.
I'm sure Wim can give you other good reasons this isn't a good idea, but those are the high points.
I know it's "only a couple of clients" right now, but in my experience, deployments usually grow rapidly. I just returned from a field visit with a client who insisted a couple of months ago he had "only a couple" of seats for a product. Now he's talking about needing 10. If cost is a big barrier, then consider a hosting service.
Just my $0.02.
Do you mean to say that with any backup, other than the built-in from FMS, databases will eventually corrupt? Or databases will eventually corrupt and FMS is better at restoring them? I'm not quite sure I understand exactly what you're meaning. . .
When a file is being hosted, either by Server or Pro, nothing - NOTHING - should be allowed to touch the file. If you allow an OS-level backup utility to copy / touch / modify / timestamp / molest the file in any way, you will eventually corrupt it. The only safe way to back it up is:
1) Stop the hosting and back it up manually.
2) Use the FMS backup function, which pauses the database hosting and performs the backup.
Let me know if that still doesn’t make sense.
I agree with Mike, and would add:
Another killer risk is that someone will actually try working at the host-client server machine, which can result in all kinds of things which might disconnect a hosted-client, resulting in lost data or file corruption.
Consider the cost of FMServer as part of the cost of protecting the data itself. If the data isn't important, sure -- go cheap and see what happens. But if the data has real value to the company/organization, they need to protect it by using FMServer to host it.
FMServer will also simplify setting up the WAN user access.