WHy is my Ipod Touch Forcing a Factory Restore?

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I've had an Ipod Touch 2nd Generation for 4 years, and it's always worked fine. However, it won't up past iOS 2 or something, so I gave up on updating its software ages ago, and I never tried updating it a again since i had no need of iOS 3 or up. However, today I went to charge it, and it won't do anything, just comes up with a picture telling me to plug the ipod into itunes. So I do, and, turns out, it is in recovery mode, and is forcing me to return the iPod to factory settings. ?
Why is it in recovery mode? I don't want to restore it, because if I do, it will wipe all my apps and ALL THEIR INFO, some of which I've had there for years and is very important and i can't lose it-- Why is it doing this!? I do not want any updates, I never tried to update it. I'm fairly certain Itunes doesn't back up app date or notes, does it?
Someone please tell me how I can fix this, because I am panicking. I cannot lose the data on this ipod. Please. I'm begging.
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Replay

Becasue something got corrupted on the iPod. It happens sometimes. Just restore the iPod to factory settings/new iPod and then try restoring from your backup.