When an application (especially IE8) goes unresponsive, that means that the thread running in the process responsible for drawing the application (also known as the UI thread), which is thread 0, is blocked for some reason until another thread finishes. Because the UI thread is responsible for drawing the UI, anything that blocks this thread and causes it to wait causes the symptoms you describe. As to the file copy, you may have trouble copying files *back* to the HDD based on where you are copying them, so more info is necessary.
As to the first issue, you need to make a registry change, close all IE windows, and then open IE and make the problem happen again:
- Open regedit
- Browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main
- Right-click on the MAIN key/folder, and select "New" > "DWORD (32 bit) Value"
- Change the new value's name to TabProcGrowth
- Close regedit
Close all IE windows, open the Task Manager, and click the "Processes" tab. Start a new IE window, and the next time the hang occurs right-click on the "iexplore.exe" listing in task manager and select "Create dump file" (you must do this *while* the process is hung, not before, and not after!). This will create a memory dump of the iexplore.exe process in your %temp% folder (start > %temp%) called "iexplore.DMP". That file will tell us why your browser is hanging. The file might be a tad large, so make sure to zip it up first, and you may have to post it on a filesharing site and provide a link to download it rather than posting it directly here.