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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.
Turn it all the off. Then pull the hard drive out and put it back in again. Now, put your system disk (Win XP?) into the drive and turn the laptop on. It should do something else now. I have had this happen on several laptops I have rebuilt and it takes patience to get them started sometimes.... I have managed to load XP onto all of them eventually!
most of the time that problem is from your hard drive... some there is a bad sector or cluster soon it will not function...!! better replace your hardrive or try to reformat your hard drive ..... this are the best thing you do..