What's easier to backup and restore? Hint a virtual machine image.
Backing up a 40 GB file to catch a few minor changes? Or automated snapshots that freeze up your VM at the most inconvenient moments, and still are far too far between?
The easiest backup/restore is, in my opinion, to use a version control system.
The OS and apps can easily be restored from nightly/idletime backups; it's the data you actually work on that should be backed up. Checking in your work in progress shouldn't be more than a couple of keystrokes, to a file system that automatically trickle-backups whenever idle.
Good old rcs is great for local version control that won't interfere with the corporate version control. I can check in my work in progress locally during the day using a macro, with the RCS directories being rsynced every few minutes. And when I'm done with my changes, I check in to a central repository using a different vcs, and the RCS directories automatically get excluded. I never lose more than a few minutes of work, can roll back and forward in much finer detail, which greatly eases merging, but most of all, no heavy IO takes place slowing down my work. Sure, you can do that in a VM too, but it doesn't buy you anything.