Quite often I use site collections per calender year. They contain team sites with task lists and datawebsites(multipage meetingsites). When you copy the individual websites they do exactly what I want, keep the tasks and empty the datasites. Both are in the same site collection. So I thought if I can copy the site collection than it will save a lot of time. Any ideas, to do it the easy way?
To be able to create a site collection from a template, that template needs to be available at farm level (you should see it as an option in the create site collection page under app management). Saving a site as a template will save it at the site collection level. This article describes how to make your template a site collection template: