I've tried Loader GX and I have the exact same problem.... When the loader is initializing, at the splash screen, it freezes if the hdd is plugged in. If the hdd is not plugged in when I start the app and if I only connect the hdd after the loader starts searching for it i have no problems. This is very weird. I only bought this HDD because it is on the compatibility list.
I will try with a 4gb usb stick. I really hope that the problem is not on the hdd and is on the steps i took to install the CFG or GX....
If I get the conclusion that the problem is on the hdd the only solution is to buy a 3 meters usb cable and keep the hdd by my side so I don't have to get up everytime i want to change games.
If anybody have some more ideas on how to solve this mystery I will appreciate it very much.