Archiving a filesystem is a great way to copy it to another location or medium. There are a number of system tools out there that specialize in doing just that- archiving your filesystem. One such application that does this job well is FSArchiver.
FSArchiver is a system tool that allows you to save the contents of a file-system to a compressed archive file. The file-system can be restored on a partition which has a different size and it can be restored on a different file-system. Unlike tar/dar, FSArchiver also creates the file-system when it extracts the data to partitions.
Everything is checksummed in the archive in order to protect the data. If the archive is corrupt, you just loose the current file, not the whole archive. Fsarchiver is released under the GPL-v2 license. It’s still under heavy development so it must not be used on critical data.
The aim of FSArchiver is to provide a safe and flexible file-system backup/deployment tool. FSArchiver can extract an archive to a partition which is smaller that the original one as long as there is enough space to store the data. It can also restore the data on a different file-system, so it can use it when you want to convert your file-system: you can backup an ext3 file-system, and restore it as a reiserfs.
There are two ways to use FSArchiver. You can either download a livecd with this program on it, or you can install it on a Linux system on your computer. If you want to install FSArchiver, you can either compile it from sources or just copy the static binary. Follow the directions here for more details. You can also read more about FSArchiver here.