As a partial answer you need to be aware of the stability of the underlying Debian package. Mint 9 and 10 are based on Ubuntu which is based on Debian. Mint Debian comes straight from Debian but none of them are entirely based on the stable Debian. This wiki http://wiki.linuxquestions.org/wiki/Debian explains the branches of Debian. To be as bullet proof as possible you can use Debian Stable but some of the packages are ancient. E.g. Wine. Anything but pure stable will have the odd hiccup.Here's my beef with Linux--name the distro--because what works one day might not work the next.
I partition my disks with partitions for Swap, Boot, Data and 3 or 4 for distributions all pointing to the same /data. This way I have a stable but old distribution as a fall back and the chance to play with others to see what I like. (Care is required to manage /boot correctly). Mint 10 was a pain so I ditched it but Mint 9 is a gem and will be my fall back for a year or two to come.
Linux rarely goes wrong if you don't mess with it. Have you checked your hardware lately? Memtest86+ from any distribution disk for the memory and hard disk SMART test routines will give an indication if your hardware is causing corruptions.