Vista does not have a recovery partition. A recovery partition is created by the computer manufacturer and how it is achieved is proprietary, although the creation is based on slipstreaming technology the exact way each manufacturer achieves it is totally different and unique.
To access your recovery partition you will need to read the manual. In most cases the manuals can be found by going to the manufacturer's website and query the computer model or service number.
Windows Vista ( Business and Ultimate versions only) does have a back-up and restore program that is built into the system. It has 4 basic applications:
1. Make full copy of system which can be stored in CD/DVD format or on a location of the harddrive or any external drive.
2. After the full copy is done then the backup program can be used to make copies of only those files that have been added to or changed from when the system was first saved.
3. Complete restoration of the system files and back up files.. Modifed from the old system restore in earlier windows systems
4. Shadow copy is basically an automatic copy of any created files and is retained even after the file has been deleted. This application can only be used and stored on the same drive as the operating system and can not be manually changed Windows Vista: A Guide to Windows Vista Backup Technologies Explore the features: Windows Backup and Restore Center