I have use ToDo Backup to clone drive to drive more then once. It works good(Its not quite True Image good, but still FREE). I tend to do the clone from a different system.
Only problem I have run into is sometimes the drive is not aligned, but that may have been me(may have messed up). I just used Gparted to align, but it requires a Windows startup repair or BCD edit to get it going again.
As for keeping it running smooth. Windows 7 should take care of most things for you.