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backing up is good, just in case... many things can happen - virus, bad sectors, blah, blah, blah. i dont back up the OS just the download folders and docs, no reason backing up apps and OS, its always better to reinstall.
------------------ "How do you know I'am mad?" said Alice "You must be" said the cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
Well if you're the kinda person who likes to install shit constantly (game demos, etc), you prolly want to start fresh often. So do a clean install on drive X, install all the apps you always use, then just grab another hard drive (drive Y), install your OS on there (Y), boot off that new one (Y), get winzip, and zip up the whole other hard drive (X) to drive Y. Now whenever you need to start fresh, just plug that hard drive in (Y), format the other one (X), and unzip the big ass file from Y onto X.
I found that's the best way to go about things... hard drives are so cheap now, you can buy a small one to do the backing up to with pocket change. Oh yeah, and to back up your precious documents, just throw them on floppies...