Q: I’m going to be re-formatting my PC soon; I know how to extract my songs from my iPod after doing so, but when I did it last time I lost the play counts for all of my songs, which most of my playlists are based on. How do I preserve my play counts?
A: This information, including last played dates and ratings, is stored in the two iTunes Library files that are in your iTunes folder.
Make sure to back them up before you reformat your PC. See this recent article about backing up your iTunes music library for more information about these files.