On a typical Windows Vista operating system, the Apple iPad should automatically be detected when it's connected via USB cable, and its drivers installed. If Windows Vista fails to detect a connected iPad, you'll be unable to perform a synchronisation and backup through the iTunes multimedia management software. Once a working connection between the iPad and Windows Vista has been confirmed, iTunes performs all the iPad's sync functions automatically.
Launch the "Control Panel" by clicking its icon in the Windows Vista Start Menu.
Select "Uninstall a program" and browse through the list of currently installed software to locate "Apple Mobile Device Support." This process is required for Vista to detect the iPad when connected via USB. If "Apple Mobile Device Support" is present, click "Cancel" and connect the iPad using its USB cable.
Select "iTunes" from the list of programs if "Apple Mobile Device Support" isn't present, and click "Uninstall." iTunes will be removed from your computer.
Download and reinstall the latest version of iTunes, following the installation instructions detailed on the Apple website. Reinstalling iTunes will also reinstall the "Apple Mobile Device Support" process, and allow Vista to detect the iPad. Restart the computer before connecting it to the iPad.
Launch iTunes on your computer by clicking its icon on the desktop.
Open the "Store" menu at the top of the iTunes window and select "Sign In." Enter the same iTunes account user name and password used by the iPad and click "Sign In." This links the iPad and iTunes to the same account, allowing them to synchronise.
Connect the iPad to the computer using its USB cable. iTunes will automatically detect the iPad and add it to the "DEVICES" list in the left-hand column.
Select the iPad from the "DEVICES" list and click "Sync" in the lower-right corner of the iTunes window. The iPad's content and settings will be backed up onto the Vista computer.