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Flashing question mark folder on startup -- sometimes

The flashing question mark on startup has been addressed quite a few times here, but my situation has a bit of a twist, because I’m only getting the flashing question mark sometimes. When I get it, I shut down my macbook, try starting up again, and it’ll start up fine. Sometimes I have to try 3 or 4 times to get it to work, but eventually (so far) it does work. And once it’s started up, it works just fine. So why would the flashing question mark only appear sometimes?

I ran disk utility. It couldn’t find anything wrong with the SSD. I’ve tried resetting the pram and smc. I’ve tried taking out the ssd and cleaning the connectors. Didn’t help.

I could simply never shut down the laptop, but then I run into another problem, which is that it isn’t waking from sleep properly.

Any ideas why the question mark folder would only appear sometimes?

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Do you have the right startup disk selected in System Preferences?

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Daniel, I do suspect it’s some kind of hardware problem. But the SSD is actually less than a year old. The previous drive failed, so I replaced it with one from OWC. Everything then worked fine until about 2 months ago, when these problems began. And as I indicated in my original post, once the laptop manages to start up (which may take anywhere from 3 to 10 tries) it all works fine, and disk utilities indicates nothing wrong with the drive.

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Given your computer’s age, I would guess that your SSD (Solid State Drive) is slowly but surely degrading in quality— which is to be expected. I highly recommend you first back up all your data. You may then attempt to inspect the SSD module: see if there are any signs of spills that might have taken place. If all seems fine, I’d recommend you replace the SSD.

Good luck!

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Well, the good news is OWC has a great customer service. So presumably, they could provide you with a replacement SSD— which would suck— but at the same time at least that’s a free solution. So I’d likely start there.

It’s also possible that the Logic Board is failing. If that is the case, that sucks. But for now, I’d stick with contacting OWC. While I trust them, I’ve had my share of bad apples (pun intended) from them.

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I ran into a problem when I was upgrading my Mid 2012 MacBook Pro with an SSD. Thought it was a bad SSD and tried a new one with no luck. I had trouble even getting the new drive to format so I could install the OS. I eventually ordered a new hard drive cable from iFixit and have not had a problem since.

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Airs don't have hard drive cables as they use a proprietary slot on the board for an SSD so it would be caused by something else.

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Carlos, this was actually my first thought, but then I opened up the laptop and realized there was no hard drive cable in my model of macbook air. The SSD port is hardwired to the logic board. So if the problem gets worse, I guess I'll need to decide whether to replace the logic board or put the money toward a new laptop.

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