Hard drive prob WD400bb

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I have a 40Gb Western Digital (wd400bb) that doesnt want to boot. Ive gotten "BOOT DISK FAILURE", umm
"No fixed disks present" when trying to fdisk or fdisk /mbr, and if I do have the bios the way it should be the computer will just stall trying to detect the drive at that point all i can do is hit del to enter the bios setup. The only way to get the machine past the hd detect with that drive in is to set the wd400bb on "none" in bios, i have also waited for the hd detection to end then plug the hd in this with the wd400bb set to auto in bios. I've been trying and swapping with 2 diff comps so Ive ruled out cable probs, jumper probs. done all the swapping with known good stuff.
Now, I have tried spinrite, It CAN read the drives specs(SMART) but still says no drive present. Same with Hard Drive Mechanic Deluxe, and Trouble shooter 5.0. These programs all indicated that the drives electronics are functioning.
Right now im running the data life guard, WD diag util and it does detect it, but i dont want to low level it, i need deperately to get the data off of it.

oh and I can see the drive in disk manager as "uknown format" on NT, the drive now is in a win 98se machine.
but couldnt use the drive utility on nt :/ or some crap.

Im also wondering if its a virus that wiped out my boot record or the fat. i have read in a few places that the errors im having with could be a virus if so how do i go about dealing with it, whats the best shareware/freeware prob to use?
more info:
This hd was working took out of one maching then placed into another and that was it, gone.

well I think thats it for now thank in advance for your help.

XP was able to read and save all the the data PHEW! but the damn this still cant be recognized in dos, or bios. Ive tryed this hd in 3 diff machines now and only xp can read it. I thought the thing was win 98 but its NT, saw the NT sys files in xp. Used the 3 boot disks to try and repair or just see the disk. I loaded the ATAPI pack 4 ide driver and tried to repair and asked for a emergency repair diskbut I dont have an emergency repair disk nor does the owner
I want to install win 98se on this drive now but need this sucker to recognize!!

btw thx everyone for ur input

still trying..
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