I have a new Thinkpad X200 with Vista Home Premium and three disk partitions (C, Q, and S). I am going to fresh-install Windows 7 on it (not the Lenovo upgrade kit). Before the installation, I want to do a backup of the Vista installation in a way that allows me to return to it if I, for example, sell the Thinkpad in the future. It does not need to be a "factory-fresh" backup, just a copy of the machine as it is now. This backup would be on one or more DVDs as needed. Once I have this backup, I would like to use the Win 7 version of R&R to make a backup onto the extra partition(s) it has now, replacing the factory-recovery data that is there now. Is this feasible?
I think I answered my own question, with some research and just trying things. The Q partition is only needed/worthwhile as a place to hold an original factory restore backup, as it is shipped. Maybe it could be used to hold a post-Windows-7 initial install backup, but it is probably not worth the trouble to do that.
Instead, I found out it is easy to delete the Q partition and add that space to the C partition-literally, it just takes a couple of mouse clicks when viewing the partitions in Windows Explorer. FIRST, though, I did both a complete system backup (which creates an as-updated copy of the C partition as well as the Q and S partitions, on a pile of DVD+R discs), then a "create factory recovery disc set", which also gives you copies of the C, Q, and S partitions but as they are received from the factory. With all of these DVD+Rs in hand, I combined the Q partition into the C partition as described above, then booted my full copy of Windows 7, reformatted the C partition, and installed/updated as desired. Done!