|What brand laptop do you have?|
What failure were you getting when trying the recovery?
Why are you using a W98 disk to format the drive? That Windows version does not recognize hard drives that large. Depending on the version of W98 and the copy of FDISK included you have a 64MB or 128MB drive limit when formatting. Drive manufacturers created software to lie to Windows so larger drives could be used. They were not the best choice since they did not use a standard drive structure and data recovery was usually not possible.
Typically when the recovery fails on a drive there is a hardware problem causing the failure. The restarts you were getting most likely were BSOD failures. You have not provided enough information to determine what is going wrong.
You need to test the hardware, at least the hard drive. If it passes test the recovery needs run to erase and correctly format the drive.
Please provide more data.