The first most thing brought to my attention is this article from ars technica. The article promotes the idea of using SystemRescueCD to generate and restore hard disk images. The applicable bit for us is that SystemRescueCD is supported by UNetbootin. So, making a version that can boot/backup/restore from USB is quite easy.
The second thing is a backup solution that a friend pointed out to me. Areca Backup appears to be a relatively simple incremental backup solution. It has advanced features like compression and encryption, performing backup deltas and allows you to recover files based on given dates. I have not worked with it yet personally, but it seems to have some promise.
Finally, we come to the Windows 7 Backup and Restore feature. I’m playing with this feature at the moment. If you have Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, it allows you to backup to any location, network or local. If not, you are only allowed to back up to a local removable disk. The tool features explorer integration and the ability to browse/search for previous versions of a file and recover older versions. I’m currently getting an unexplained “permission denied” error while running my backup, but it still looks like a feature I will enable on all of my Windows 7 hosts.