Up until Linux 2.6.31, write barriers were always disabled while using LVM. So it's unlikely that journaling would have been very effective at preventing data loss in a system using something like ext3 + LVM + Linux 2.6.28.
Personally, I use rsync for monthly backup, every month, and hope for the best. And when you see that first I/O error come out of /dev/sda... throw that thing in the trash. I've never seen a disk "get better" after starting to give I/O timeouts and errors.