today seems to be my day for updates.
After kicking this around in my head and thinking about how simple this needs to be (in case I have to walk my wife thru this on the phone) I decided on the Seagate Replica
Simply plug it in to the PCs (I bought the multiple PC edition) and it slowly copies the entire drive.
If you just need to grab files you can just surf to it and copy files. If you need to do a full restore, pop in the CD, reboot from the CD and the restore application takes over and the drive is reconstituted.
How easy is it?
Did the backups, took about 5 hours for each machine (remember it backs up the entire drive, O/S and everything).
Unfortunately, I had to do a restore on my wife's machine and this is where it was a snap. got repeated stack dumps due to some file corruption. Loaded the CD, F12 to force it change boot sequence, 3 hours later, the machine was back and running. the only lost data was from the last couple of days (nothing that couldn't quickly be recovered).
I can recommend this as a great little tool for those of us who act as the family tech support line. Plug in, data backed up...some sort of failure, load CD, plug in drive and let it rebuild overnight. Piece of cake.