Vista is the operating system from Hades.
Why don't you just buy a real operating system? XP or 7 seem to work fine.
If you have a student / college e mail, you can buy 7 pro for $40 from digital river.
It includes a back up disk.
so you really don't want to upgrade, but rather clean install. Clean always seems to work better.
take the drive out and install it as a second drive on another working computer, you can then drag your files off the old drive and make a backup. OR you can have a computer shop do it for you.