Thanks! i actually just found the guide section (first time on this site) and i'm downloading Clonezilla Live right now. if that doesn't work out i'll try out partimage.
got it working with the SystemRescueCD. it's a bit easier for a noob like me, boots up to a command line where you type startx to start the GUI, then all i had to do is figure out how to mount my spare HDD using the terminal 'cuz it doesn't come with a file browser installed. didn't take too long, did it with:
mount -t ext3 /dev/hdb1 /mnt/mkdir/
then i just had to figure out how to use PartImage.
if anyone else wants to try out the SystemRescueCD, you can get a .iso to burn here:
Thanks again for the help!