Creating images of a directory or partition means an exact duplication sector by sector, so when you restore it reflects the same structure which you had at the time of creating the images.
Windows Vista comes with an inbuilt utility called as Robocopy which can Mirror a complete directory tree (partition) which you can even use to create a stable image of your Windows Drive ( like backup software or even doing a partition repair )and save the time which you spend reinstalling everything.
This tutorial is in reference with 30 Days Windows Vista Tutorials and Guide
Open the command prompt and type in Robocopy and it outputs the below help on how to use it.
ROBOCOPY :: Robust File Copy for Windows
Simple Usage :: ROBOCOPY source destination /MIR
source :: Source Directory (drive:\path or \\server\share\path).
destination :: Destination Dir (drive:\path or \\server\share\path).
/MIR :: Mirror a complete directory tree.
You can run this utility while you are logged in to windows but if you making a image of your primary partition or Windows Drive suggested way would be to run your Vista DVD and do it from the command prompt interface. This will not only be fast but also much stable.
However if you are doing for other partitions you can do it from the Visual Interface. Give Robocopy a try its worth it.