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Boot problem - Optiplex 755 stuck btwn Dell splash & Win XP splash

New boot problem - on Restart (or Power Off, wait, turn on), my Dell Optiplex 755 hangs after the Dell splash and before the WinXP splash.  The screen is black with the horizontal white cursor blinking in the upper left corner ... forever. 

If I hit Ctrl+Alt+Del, it continues booting, and everything's fine. 

Have run every Av and anti-malware scan, looked at Ntbtlog, etc., but no clues so far.  What should I look for or do?

Optiplex 755, WinXPProSP3 with all updates, 2GB of RAM of which at least half is always available.

Avast Home Free AV, AdAware, and free (manual) versions of SpywareBlaster, Spybot S&D, Malwarebytes.  Recently added Windows Security Essentials, but I don't think it starts so soon in the sequence.  In any case, all was working fine.

Only two thoughts:  1)  This started after I brought a used PC home from the office (Optiplex GX 280), added it to our home network (Workgroup through a DSL modem-router) and installed WinXPPro SP3 on it.  But I have the problem whether or not this new used computer is on.    2) At about the same time, I connected to one of the rear USB's on the Optiplex 755 a new Western Digital external drive (1 Terabyte) which now appears as G:\ in "My Computer" on the Optiplex 755. 

But I don't see how these could affect the Optiplex 755 boot-up sequence.  And obviously I don't want to disconnect the Western Digital external drive.

Any ideas or test procedures?  Thanks.

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