If I were you I would consider getting an external HDD to back up to instead of DVDs. Typical DVDs hold 4.7G of data, if you have a fairly small (by today's standards) 100G of data to back up, you're going to need around 20 DVDs (depending on how compressed the backup is). With an external USB HDD you can plug it in, start the backup and walk away. With DVDs you will need to constantly feed DVDs to it to keep the backup going.
You could even set the external drive up with a schedule to backup once per week (or whatever your preference), totally unattended.
Yes, doing an image backup with Acronis then creating the bootable media will allow you to recover the OS, your installed apps, all your settings/tweaks, any OS updates since SP3 AND your data whereas the downloaded XP disk will recover only the OS with SP3, everything else will be lost.
Edited by strolln, 09 May 2011 - 08:35 AM.