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Vista Home Prem, data recovery.

I have a dell computer with Vista Home Prem, that is giving me the data backup message at the boot asking to press f1 to continue, it goes as far as the vista logo and nothing else, I've tried to run chkdsk from booting on windows vista cd but it can't see any OS installed on the computer, I've also tried to plug the drive on a usb adapter on a different computer however it gives me access to the recovery partition but no access to the c: partition. Any suggestions?

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Run getdataback on the HD from that 2nd PC. If it sees the files you need backed up, register the tool and then you can copy the files to that other PC.

After that replace the HD (or get a warranty replacement from the manufacturer, provided it is still under warranty).
here a list of good Free/not free recovery soft :      pc Inspector -FREE -            FREE  -  Recuva                              Stellar                              GetDataBack

it can be some bad sectors; in that case HDD regenerator often helps.
runthe free trial, and check if it finds a bad sector - then buy it, and run the complete disk      
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From the description of the problem on the drive (having to press F1 at bootup prompt to continue) suggests a SMART error. SMART error are hardware errors where when your lucky and react early enough, the drive still may work, but you must act to replace the Disk asap. For that reason there isn't much point in trying to repair the disk after the data has been saved. Disks with SMART errors need to be replaced.
Attach the hard drive to another computer and then use Windows Vista data recovery software.