Failed to format - What's the problem?


I am trying to figure out what went wrong in this whole deal. I have a pc with 2 hard drives. When I fired it up, memory checks and everything works fine (got past POST no problem), until it says a system file was corrupted and failed to boot. I thought it's just that I haven't boot it for a very long while (like half a year) and I don't really have any files in it to back up, I just decided to delete the parts and reformat the drives and do a clean installation. However, I tried using my Win 2003 server, Win XP Pro, Win 7 Pro, (All x86) but none of those got past the drives phase. Win server 03 didn't even format it, it just hanged at 0% formatting screen in the install. XP did a little better, but did not complete the bar either (I tried an 8mb part and it got stuck at 79% without error messages - Hanged). Win 7 on the other hand did not even detect the presence of any hard disk. What tests should I run to check what exactly is wrong with the comp?

One thing I am trying to find out is whether it is worth to fix or not. If someone can provide an estimate of cost figures, that would be good.
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More about failed format what problem
  1. Chances are, the HDD crashed. Download a hard drive scanner that can be burned onto a disk or put onto a USB. Change the boot settings to boot to disk/usb first, booting into the program. Run a scan on the hard drive. If there are any errors that come back, then you know its a bad drive.

    Price estimates vary, as you'll need to buy a new hard drive (or if the hard drive is still under warranty, send that in at the cost of postage). If you need a new drive, prices vary on how big and how fast the drive is.

    Edit: Wait, I just re-read your post and this is happening to both drives? Are they set in RAID, or are you trying to format each disk at a time? Sometimes HDDs don't want to play nice with reinstalling OSes. Its better to get a software that will format your drive independently of having a OS do it. It takes a heck of a lot longer, but its a better format than what the OS will do during installation.
  2. What is the brand and model of the HDD?
  3. It is an old machine. The there are two drives, not RAID. One is a Maxtor, the other is a Quantum Fireball. I inherited the machine so i can't really tell the model precisely, but the model numbers are:

    Maxtor 53073H4
    Quantum Fireball EX Series 3.5

    One weird symptom I have forgotten to mention is that, I have 3 parts on 2 drives. But no matter what drive I select to install windows (Win XP/Win Server 03), it automatically assumed I selected C:, which is the one I am having a big problem formatting.
  4. Alright, like I said, download a free program that will completely reformat the drives. It may take a while (read: several hours) to do a complete format. Then run a disk checker program to ensure the drive has no bad sectors. After that, then attempt to install windows.
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