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I am looking for a backup tool for Windows 7, that will allow me to backup my laptop’s hard drive on an external hard drive as an exact image. In a case of a problem with the main hard drive, I would like just to swap the drives and to continue to work using the backup hard drive.

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Clonezilla is free, and will do disk or partitioning image and restore, and I believe does the disk to disk cloning that you're looking for as well.

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