Quote matt keen:
Ryan - what did time machine fail to do?
Actually, it worked just fine in the end, but there was a hiccup along the way. I tried to do a full system restore from the backup, and it failed. After an online search, I encountered people who had got past that hurdle by reinstalling (snow leopard in this case) and then restoring from the backup.
This seems to have worked fine.
However, during the process, I was gripped by a bone-chilling fear. Suppose the time-machine backup(s) also became unreadable? Or (more likely) suppose my mbp had died permanently and I decided to jump the apple ship and port all my files to a windoze or linux box? I'd be screwed with nothing but backups in a proprietary apple format.
I'll give Carbon Copy Cloner a whirl; looks like it might be exactly what I'm after.