MBA and flashing folder with question-mark?

Trying to help my neighbor who goes back to college next week…

He’s got an Apple MacBook Air “Core i5” 1.7 13" (Mid-2011/Thunderbolt) that no longer boots. He gets the flashing folder with a question-mark icon.

When we CMD+R during boot, Disk Utility shows a 2GB ‘base’ partition. It appears his working partition disappeared…

What might we try to get him running?

Thank you in advance,

As it’s an ssd device:

  • try an external boot disk to see it the rest of the hardware still works
  • if so: try to reinstall macos through the recovery partition (cmd-r on boot)
  • if that does not do it: go to a genius bar, your ssd has probably died (they can better diagnose that)

Thank you @JKoopmans.

We were going to reinstall MacOS last night, but only the ‘base’ partition appeared. It is as if the ‘user’ partition didn’t exist.

Do you have a clone of the machine you can boot from?
That would give you some diagnostics options.

Genius Bar could be the faster way to get an answer and solution.

Flashing Folder icon means it cannot locate the Operating System. This is due to a corrupt OS or failing drive. Disk Utility should see the SSD and a Volume. Repartitioning the SSD may be required to regain a Volume that you can reinstall an OS on.

Best of Luck and let us know what happens.

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We believe the SSD failed. The owner got good use out of that machine considering its age!

He bought a new MBA.

Thank you for the suggestions!