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My Raspberry Pi 2 B (rev a01041) has been working great for ages. I usually have two hard drives plugged into it. Yesterday, I plugged in another one. Today I plugged in a fourth. Immediately, the Pi started behaving oddly in my ssh session, spitting out errors as below.

$ vim ~/.zshrc
zsh: Input/output error: vim
prompt_vcs:53: vcs_info: function definition file not found                                             
$ sudo reboot
zsh: Input/output error: sudo
prompt_vcs:53: vcs_info: function definition file not found                                             

I couldn't ssh in another session. I then pulled and replaced the power plug to hard boot it. It wouldn't boot. The power and ACT LEDs are solidly on, but there are no other signs of life. No ethernet LED, no HDMI signal, etc. I tried removing the two extra hard drives but that didn't make a difference. Finally, I replaced the Pi with another B+ (rev 0010), and it booted up fine.

  1. Is my Pi permanently dead?
  2. Could plugging in too many USB devices have killed it (is there no protection)?

EDIT: further troubleshooting

As per suggestions from Steve Robillard in the comments, I re-tried booting the broken Raspberry Pi 2 B with no hard drives connected at all. This did not help.

On a whim, I plugged in the spare SD card that was previously in the B+ (with OSMC on it). Oddly enough, this time I did get the four-colour-pixel startup screen, although it froze there. The red power LED lit up, but the green ACT did not.

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    Sorry, I was going on the title and stopped reading at "...It wouldn't boot." Bad habit. Only halfway through my first coffee. ;) I think you are correct; the other reports involving the polyfuse said no lights at all.
    – goldilocks
    May 19, 2016 at 13:27
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    I would still use a powered USB hub. It is cheap insurance and avoids under powering the drives. May 19, 2016 at 13:44
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    I don't see how a USB hub hurts throughput. Do the drives have a seperaate plug or wall wart? May 19, 2016 at 22:11
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    how is that any differnt than plugging them all into the pi's ports which is absically a hub May 19, 2016 at 22:14
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    Note the USB bus is also shared with the Ethernet port so that is likely to be your bottleneck. May 19, 2016 at 23:29

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