Holding down the Windows key and the letter "E" will send Vista into its death throes. (click to enlarge image)
How should you protect yourself? Check out my article, "What To Do When Windows Vista Crashes: Little-Known Recovery Strategies." I describe the Complete PC Backup utility, which enables you to save a bit-for-bit copy of your hard drive. That'll allow you to restore your system without having to go through a cumbersome, full reinstall of the OS.
Equally useful (maybe more useful) is little-known process to repair bad boot sectors. Called Bootrec, it's an update of something that was previously available on XP. That portion of the article is located here.
If you have any unique crashes you've encountered, or tips you'd like to share, please email me or leave a (clean) comment below.