For those who also runs into the same issue. After a long search this seems to have solved my problem:
That is the Liteon LCT-128M3S SSDR Firmware VQDC update and although I ran it on Windows 7 (and not Windows 8 as that page suggests) I haven't seen those hang-up for awhile... keeping my fingers crossed.
PS. Lesson for the future -- NEVER buy again from Dell!