Could be any of those things. Check the disc/media with Nero CD/DVD speed. If it hangs during the transfer test, file, surface scan, etc… you may have a bad disc or batch of bad discs. I had something like this happen to me before. It turns out I had a batch of really bad Memorex 52X CDs that I bought at Wal-Mart. Check the disc with dvdindentifer or dvdinfopro or even Nero CD/DVD Speed itself to see what the media code is for the disc. That bad disc may just not be supported in Nec 3500AG’s default 2.16 firmware. You may have to flash to Herrie’s 2.17, Liggy’s 2.17 beta 8, TDB’s 2f8, etc… that are readily available by reading the stickies in the Nec forum.
Oops! My Bad! You already know the media code. In that case I would reinstall Nero as well. But this time do a thorough uninstall with registry cleaning when possible. After that run Nero CD/DVD Speed test on several of your media just to see if you may still have a bad batch of media. Then try burning again, but with all background programs, virus scanners, etc… in your taskbar disabled or off.
I reinstall Nero and it appeared to correct my “freeze” problem as well. The screen, mouse, etc… would hang and freeze up. I had to manually shut down the pc by pressing the restart and or power buttons. This Nero 188.8.131.52 was really buggy for my system. I upgraded to the Nero 6.6 Reloaded and so far all is well.
Also, is your burner’s udma mode enabled in Windows XP Pro? Are you certain that all cables are free of dust and have no bent pins? Are they firmly attached on both ends, mainboard and drive? What type of ram do you have? In my experience bad ram no matter how much you have can generally generate bsod or “freezing” problems. Are the mainboard chipset drivers updated to the “most compatible ones and not necessarily the latest ones?”
There’s always the last possibility that your drive may be going bad. If you’ve tried my suggestions and others that my follow and they don’t work. I would rma the drive.