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Recently I find that with one of my Pi 3b+, sometimes plugging in ethernet or unplugging it causes it to crash and display "error reading inode #xxxxxxx", "aborted journal detected", and the like on my main filesystem. This happens when I plug in a USB device too.

I have fscked it, and it always repairs it for a little while. I notice that if I plug in ethernet before I plug in the power, it usually starts fine, but if I plug in ethernet during the booting process, bam, it crashes.

Now why does this happen, and what kind of problem could ethernet and/or a USB flash drive cause on my main (separately stored on a SSD) filesystem?

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    Sounds a bit like a ground issue - I've had PCs and Macs spark / reboot due to ground issues and USB devices. Never found a fix on the Pi though. – Andyroo Mar 26 at 0:37
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    You mean there's some sort of charge in the USB connector that's causing trouble? – user96931 Mar 26 at 0:42
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Plugging Ethernet should not cause any electrical problem, as it is galvanically isolated, although USB devices can cause power transients.

It seems unlikely it is a physical problem, "error reading inode #xxxxxxx" means there is a problem in the filesystem. I assume "aborted journal detected" means the journalling system was unable to repair it.

You could try https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions to see if there are suggestions for repairing it but the file is probably irreparably damaged.

I would just restore from my backup to a new SD Card, as the old one may be worn out.

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