When you "Format" Drive your telling it how you want the file system to be made on that drive.
So you can choose Fat32 or NTFS larger drives choose NTFS +32gb
If windows can not do it that means it may have lost the MBR Master Boot Record which reports back the partitions on the drive so you may have to run a program called FDISK to repair / remove and create a new MBR.
If your laptop is running vista just put the drive back into the laptop and use your Vista installation disks to re-install it, it should resolve all the problems as the install process begins.
Hope that helps.
* Repairing the MBR at the installation (Not always given that option) Could bring the Hard Drive back to what it was.
If your stuck derek give me a call and i will try and advise you.
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