I would really recommend you go back to XP from Vista. Vista keeps churning the harddrive endlessly and is a painful experience on a laptop. Alternatively you can install windows 7 instead.
For the drivers you can select your device from the Device manager and click properties. Then you can select update driver and somewhere there you can click specify location. Then you can force the driver to be used.
Well, I really like how similar Vista feels to 7, and since I've had this unused Vista key sitting around for years, I wanted to make use of it. It just feels more fluid than XP. If I had an extra 7 key I would have went with that, but it wasn't an option.
About the HDD issues with Vista -- could you elaborate a bit on that? I've been looking and I haven't seen much about it wearing out HDDs any faster than 7. I found a few threads that mentioned it being rough on HDDs but they were all from 2007 and I had heard that Vista had improved considerably since then. Wouldn't turning off the indexing and stuff like that solve that kind of problem anyway?
As for forcing the driver manually, I tried that a little earlier and it kept telling me that the "Standard VGA Graphics Adapter" is currently up-to-date, so I guess it's not even seeing the NVIDIA drivers (or it's skipping it.)
Thanks for the response, by the way.