I trust Acronis backup/restore rather than XP's own. I would strongly advise you not to mess about with any alternatives to Acronis.
Make your backup using Acronis, when done just make sure that you run the Acronis Validation. I have never had any problems with Acronis - IMHO it is by far the best and easiest way to keep your System safe.
If you really do insist on doing it your way as above, external USB floppy drives are very cheap.