Also, another thing that can hose up files is if you overclock your south bridge too high, while you can OC it a bit don't over do it because you can corrupt your HD in seemingly random ways, this includes files being corrupted or in some cases entire file system itself (the operating system core).
I know the Asus Republic of Gamers aka Asus R.O.G. does do some tweaks that are a bit out there, yes, they're great if you can keep your PC and all the components at the the same temperature, not to mention cool but using a thermal scan while I was testing this board with the cooling equipment that came with it made me wonder what was going through their heads when they did this at Asus. Now, this is about the motherboard as in the desktop that is.
I can also help with the laptop, just need more information to see where the problem could be.
Did you start Windows Vista in Safe Mode by holding down F8 before MS Windows starts to load? Once that is all loaded in Safe Mode which takes considerably longer than a normal boot, see if Internet Explorer will start. If it does and there is no trouble, then shut your computer down as you normally do, through the START button.
Something else, on some computers with the SATA connector, what happens if you your computer is on for extended periods of time is that the timing on the SATA hard discs and controllers differ by quite a bit and even though they have the ability to synchronize with each other under "normal" conditions they fail when this occurs. What to do about it when file seem to corrupt and you are not over-clocking your south-bridge, no malware or other baddies present, and your hard disc appears to be in good health?
Simple, instead of restarting your computer, do a "Shutdown" from the START button in Vista and then wait about a minute before clicking on the power button to start your computer again.
What this does it allow the computer to lose timing and latch-up from the previous state when it got stuck doing this. A cold restart is needed for this to fix it, assuming you don't have physical damage to your chip set or to your drives in your computer. If you do a normal reboot from the START button, that's called a warm reset, all that does is clear the memory and doesn't reset anything that latched up due to clock drift or heat, let alone both.
There are a variety of different reasons this could have happened to you as well.