OK, I'll suggest something near and dear to my heart, though I realize there's probably only 3 other people in the home-computing world that give a rip... Backup software. (Ohmigawd, did he just say BACKUP?!!!)
Yeah, I know there's a backup tool built into Windows since version '95. And OK, so if you actually USE the thing (refer to my previous comment about the 3 other people in the world), you CAN recover some files, assuming you know what files to recover.
One VERY bad thing about the Windows backup is, well actually, two are, it cannot backup a file from disc if it is open, and it cannot overlay a file on disc if it is open. So, for example, just TRY to recover your registry file (or files, as is the case now in XP). Go on, try. I'll wait...
Neither does it let you backup files from another computer on your home network. For example, you can't connect your laptop to the network and run the backup from your desktop, expecting to get a nice tape or DVD copy of your laptop's content. As should be obvious, you can't restore that way, either.
I've been using TapeWare for several years. It came with my HP Insider tape backup unit. It does in fact backup and restore across the network (you'll need a "feed" engine running on the laptop that communicates with the main backup engine on the desktop). And yes, it DOES backup files that are open, and it DOES restore files that are open (but you have to tell it to, and even then, it requires a reboot to recover busy files).
TapeWare is serious networking adminitrators' stuff, though, and the interface isn't all that wonderful for non-admins like myself. I end up backing up the same file several times. For example, it backs up the registry by polling the registry interface and extracting the current values from either memory or disc, as is appropriate for a value at the time. Then it procedes to back up the disc files, which on XP are multiple. So I get 2 copies of my registry. Same thing happens with my shredder - one copy comes from reading the contents of the shredder, another comes from reading the actual file off of disc.
Result: my desktop, with some 14gb of files, creates a tape with about 19gb. I use 24gb tapes, so size is not a problem, but the length of time to backup and verify is.
A strong point, and VERY strong, is this: TapeWare creates, on every tape, the system bootup sector and partition information. That's important, in combination with my HP drive. In the event of "I can't boot" or "Blue screen of death" I can power-off, hold the eject button on my drive, and power back on. The drive makes itself look like a bootable CDROM and starts a DOS recovery session. Data is taken off the tape (make sure you do an incrimental every day) and laid onto the disc. Just enough to get a bare Windows system running and the TapeWare software running on it. Then it reboots from disc and loads windows, where the full TapeWare commences to put back everything up to whatever incrimentl backup date you like. Done. Recovered. Completely.
So what other high performance, auto-error detecting, full backup/restore is available for the home user? I'm afraid to stop using TapeWare, but I sure wish there was something not so cryptic in its GUI that made me feel more comfortable about tweaking what it backs up...