Go to the Maxtor site and download a copy of MaxBlast. It will do exactly what you wish to another HD. It makes a clone of the drive. Free. As far as I'm concerned it's much easier than trying to back up everything to optical drives. When you're finished, put the cloned drive in a safe place. In case of a catastrophic failure, just remove the crashed drive, put the cloned drive in its place, a power up. Done. On the odd occasion that XP may want to reactivate, it's quick and painless.
Recently my 4 year old HP Pavillion WinXP crashed. I ran HP recovery software and then spent HOURS upgrading WinXP from the OEM version to today's WinXP SP2 with all of its updates. What do you recommend as the best way to mirror the image of the hard drive so when it crashes again, I won't have to spend hours updating WinXP?