The good news is the utility, released Wednesday, will fix a variety of problems by reinstalling version 1.1.4 of the Shuffle's internal software; the bad news is it will erase all music and data on the device, so having a backup of the content is advised.
The Shuffle, launched in January of last year, was available with 512MB or 1GB of flash memory. The new utility works with both versions, but does not support any other iPod model, including the new shuffle, a clip-on device the size of a matchbook that shipped in September.
Among the problems targeted with the utility includes the inability to play music, or sync with Apple's online store iTunes. Other troubles include the device not being recognized when plugged into a Mac or PC, or showing up in the wrong location.
Further details are available on the Apple Web site, where the utility can be downloaded.