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You may have accidently removed the photo programs you were using. Check to see if the software programs are indeed still on your computer by searching by name. If it or they are there , open one of the programs before you connect the camera and it should automatically download.
If they have been removed use the disc that came with your camera to reload the software program.
I had same problem. Called Canon and found out A40 is not compatible with Vista so there is no driver. But you can download pics to your Vista by purchasing USB Memory Card Reader/Writer you can find at Walmart for about $12.00. You put your Flash card in device and has USB that plugs in computer for downloading pics.
ASSUMING it worked just fine before AND you have made no changes to the PC software (Microsoft Update ? ) then it sounds like to bad cable .. however this does seem very unlikely ... see if you can check by borrowing a cable from a friend ... or take the Camera back to the shop where you bought it and ask them to help you by showing you how to download pics ...(do NOT pick a 'spotty youth' on a busy Saturday to do this .. look for older staff on a nice slow Tuesday afternoon to get more co-operation :-) )
Here's the support site for your camera. Click on the "Downloads and Drivers" tab, select your operating system, and then download the appropriate driver for your system (note some OS don't require a driver.