Send me a bus ticket and I'll come out there and show you how to do all that. Eh? (I do love TDY or Road Trips)
The program I use, "Ghost 11.5" can do all that. It can do a Partition to Image, or a Partition to Partition, or a Disk to Image, or a disk to disk (clone)
In any case it can work well with disks of different sizes, as long as the data from one will fit on the other. NO Problemo!
In the normal course of events, (my weekly backup) I only use the "Partition to Image" option, with FAST Compression.
The backup starts with the MBR (boot Sector) and copies the entire C: drive, file by file. (NOT the Pagefile or empty spaces)
It's a file copier, not a bit-copier, so it perfectly maintains file integrity. The files go into the backup just as they are copied from the HD, just like you would copy a file from your HD to a Flash Drive, for instance. I can pick either NO Compression, FAST Compression or HIGH Compression, ideal for backing up to DVD's.
The size of data in the backup file is all that's really important, not the size of the drive it's being restored to.
So you could back up 200 gigs of data, from a 1TB drive and restore that data to a 500 gig HD, with no problem.
Every decent backup program should work that way, but from what I've read on these forums, that's not always the case.
Ghost will even let me clone a 1TB drive to a 500 gig drive, as long as the data will fit.
I think that's similar to what you were talking about. Eh?
In fact, that's exactly what I did, when I got my new 1TB drive. I had two partitions on my old 500 gig drive and Ghost portioned out the space on the 1TB drive perfectly. ("I love it when a plan comes together")