The backup discs will be the recovery discs.
He maybe lucky and have a partition holding the recovery/restore program also.Normally accessed via F10 or F11 on startup or even F8 that provides Vista's startup repair.
These are worth checking out before he goes to long and may need these functions.
Basically carry out a dummy run to see if these exists and they work ok.
Failing all this,treating himself to a version of Acronis True Image for those backups would be a good investment.