So I finally got around to actually redoing my entire computer from scratch. The first step, of course was backup, which I'll cover in this post.
First, I picked up a 2.5" enclosure, which I highly recommend - it makes the process way easier. I had a desktop available with about 20 gigs of free space to play with, so I could just copy my files to that, 7-zip them up, and worry about burning them to DVDs and such later. The enclosure I got was pretty straightforward, I got it for free after rebate from Buy.com, rebates are a hassle, but they're worth it if you're a poor college student like me.
Copying my files was a pretty painless process, but to get at my Linux partitions from Windows, I first tried what I've previously used, ext2 ifs, but it didn't seem to like copying files over. So instead I found Explore2fs, which was very easy to use, worked like a charm, and eventually copied my Linux data to my desktop. I zipped up the home dir (since that's all I wanted) in a few chunks, and deleted the originals. Then I copied my Windows files over (which, annoyingly, didn't have a home dir to work with), and zipped them up in a few DVD-size chunks. After deleting the originals again, I moved all the zips over to my shared directory so that I could burn them (since my desktop didn't have a DVD burner).
Since my files were safe on my desktop, and I didn't want to mess with burning them on my old system, I took my hard drive out of my enclosure and put it back in my laptop. Next up was installing Windows XP.