Disclaimer: Advice is provided to the best of my knowledge but no implicit or explicit warranties are provided. Since the advisor explicitly encourages testing any and all suggestions on a test non-production environment advisor should not held liable or responsible for any actions taken based on the given advice.
If you get pong from server this means that the kernel did not hang.
First thing I should do it to check the disk activity using the leds on the system. if the server is installed on a remote site then using ssh or rdp you can check the activity since depending on the server hardare config and imported data, you can get slow response from the server.