I use Virtual Machines (VM) at home. If you think that VMs only have their place in corporations, then you may want to think twice and consider deploying them for use within your home. Even if you do not have any servers, it still makes sense to deploy them on your notebooks, desktops, etc.
The reason why I use VMs is because they provide a contained environment which can be ported to different machines if I should choose to do so. I run Ubuntu Linux on my Oracle Virtualbox, and it is simply a cinch for me to switch notebooks when I upgrade. Once you perform a VM migration and see your desktop and applications being migrated across so easily, you will probably think twice about using your native desktop again!
Other than migration, full system backup is also no longer a chore. Now all I need to do in order to have a full system is to create a snapshot, and when I feel like it, copy the VM and its associated VDIs out to my external HDD for safekeeping. With large HDDs being so cheap now, it is probably more cost effective for you to just backup the entire VM rather than debate about what to backup and what to leave out.