Hanging, is usually caused by the lack of memory. No matter how much memory you have installed on your PC, if you open enough programs, and do enough stuff at the same time, you will run out of memory. XP is good at restoring it's own memory (No need for other programs.) after you quit programs.
Therefore, if you have at least 1GB RAM and your PC is hanging, try shutting down any unused programs you have running.
Check "MSCONFIG" to see what is running. (Go "START" "RUN" type "msconfig" press "OK" press "START UP" tab)
It may help to download and run "Malwearbytes". http://www.malwarebytes.org/
Just to be certain that your virus program is working well, download "Trend housecall" and run it. http://housecall.trendmicro.com/
To answer you question about hardware, yes hardware could cause this problem but it is highly likely that it will be caused by a software problem.
You should start a new thread for your problem.
First try uninstalling the printer from "Add and remove programs" then follow the instructions exactly for the installation. Do not plug in the printer until asked by the installation program, etc. See if that helps.
If not, start a new thread, tell us about your PC and you printer and what you have done to try and fix the problem. Search the net to see if others have had this problem with your type of printer. If it is new, ask the supplier (via the internet).