A real shame you resorted to a reinstall, it may have been possible to run "Refresh" from the recovery environment and recover the OS...
Have a read here regarding such actions: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/01/04/refresh-and-reset-your-pc.aspx?Redirected=true
Regarding IE, have look here: http://www.thewindowsclub.com/internet-explorer-freezes-crashes-hangs
see if that helps.
Regarding browsers, I personally use Mozilla Firefox and have no issues whatsoever.
This is my set up for Windows 7:
Windows own Firewall, Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes Pro. Windows FW and MSE are free, MB does also have a free version, however I prefer the pro version as it provides auto updates and realtime protection.
As an extra layer I also use WinPatrol, the free version is adeqaute for general home use. Available here: http://www.winpatrol.com/download.html
For my browser I use Firefox with these addons: Web of Trust, Adblock Plus, Flash Block, NoScipt, Ghostery. When Firefox is open select these keys together :- Ctrl - Shift - A
that will access Addons manger, this gives access to find addons, use, start, stop or disable those features etc....
Before using NoScript read from this link http://noscript.net/
makes it easy to understand....
Understanding Windows 7 Firewall - http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows7/Understanding-Windows-Firewall-settings
Understanding Microsoft Security Essentials - http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/security/pc-security/mse.aspx
Understanding Malwarebytes, how to create an exclusion in MSE - http://forums.malwarebytes.org/index.php?showtopic=10138&st=0&p=162100&#entry162100
Understanding WinPatrol - http://www.winpatrol.com/features.html
I also use the Professional version of Sandboxie, I believe there is also free version available. Visit this link http://www.sandboxie.com/
for access to d/l, also make sure to use the "Help and FAQ" option to understand its uses, specifically how to run your browser sandboxed!.
I have also just started using CryptoGuard by Hitman Pro, once installed it will protect all Browsers against crypto ransomware infections, is also free. Go to following link for instructions, it will work with the set up I describe above..http://www.surfright.nl/en/alert/cryptoguard
Also read the following link to fully understand PC security and best practices, you may find it useful....http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/407147/answers-to-common-security-questions-best-practices/#entry2316629
As you have reverted to a fresh install are we OK to close out the thread?