OK, I think I've finally settled on my backup solution. Here are the details:
My current tower has four 5.25" bays, all of which are being used in the following order:
--main hard drive in special fixed cooling enclosure
--2nd hard drive in a removeable bay/tray enclosure
(I have two DVD drives because I didn't have a burner when I built the computer in 2001)
So, here is what I will have to buy:
--two SATA 500GB hard drives (I think I prefer Seagate's new 7200.10 line)
--The new Snap-In mobile rack from Addonicshttp://www.addonics...._rack/aesnapmrsa.asp
--I probably need some kind of SATA PCI card or something since my computer doesn't support SATA at this time.
The reason why I like Addonic's snap in rack is because I can just slide the bare drive in and out. One of the new drives will be kept in there for the most part and backup the other two main drives. Then, once a month, I will bring the other new drive (from some offsite location) and switch the drives in the rack and backup the other two drives again. I like that I can just use the bare drive. Since I have no more available 5.25" racks, I will remove the DVD player, which I don't need anyway.
For backing up, I will actually use some kind of synchronization software like DirSync. The reason why I do this instead of imaging is because I actually want the files useable on a standalone basis on the drive. There are no program files being backed up, just program settings, music, documents, etc. I don't really care if my OS crashes or programs crash since I can just reinstall them.
So that's my solution for now. I like it, but it's also somewhat temporary. One day, I will build a new computer (mine is 5 years old already), and I will have something more sophisticated, like an external enclosure with multiple bays or something. But since I'm not a gamer or graphics person, I think this computer can last me a couple of more years, until I can afford a newer system.
Any thoughts are appreciated, especially if you see something very wrong with my solution.