Owners of failing first generation iPod Shuffles will be pleased to learn that Apple has released a reset utility (for Mac and Windows), which completely wipes the flash storage and starts the iPod fresh. Normally, we think of an iPod “Restore” action having this effect, which is entirely true for hard drive based iPods. A hard drive based iPod can be restored after the drive has been completely overwritten with zero’s, so there’s no argument there. However, the iPod Shuffle must work differently, as they can get corrupted and become unusable. A corrupted iPod Shuffle just blinks orange and green lights, and refuses to appear on the desktop. Apple’s new updater communicates with the iPod USB controller chip — always available when plugged in, unless the problem is far more serious — and reloads the entire contents of flash, bringing your once-dead iPod back to life.
I think Apple must have used some utility like this in the past, at least internally, to reset returned iPod Shuffles. When mine failed a few months ago with the aforementioned problem, Apple was able to reload the contents and make it live once more, so I’m glad to see that this great tool is now available to the public. As this is one of the most common iPod Shuffle difficulties, the iPod shuffle Reset Utility should greatly decrease the number of necessary returns.