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Sounds like the hard drive isn't working. check in the setup bios of the machine to make sure it is recognized as the main boot device. It should be second in order so that a flash drive could start it up if plugged in. It would be third if you have a CD which minis usually don't. If it lost the date/time and settings, the backup battery is bad and needs replaced.
Sounds like a hijacker. Run an anti-spyware scan. If that's not the case, it could be a hardware issue, depending on how and when this started and whether any defected software/hardware was installed to cause this issue.
you need to set the jumper setting from your Hard Drive as Master Drive and the CD/DVD player is Slave then go to Bios settings then set 1st boot CD/DVD to boot the windows installer..good luck and have a nice day..
It depends how your tring to format it. If your operating system is running on the same drive it will fail. You would need to boot off another OS or boot of the XP / vistra CD and format it via the installation wizards.