Lycos is revamping its free webmail service, vastly increasing storage space and lifting the size limit on file attachments, the online services provider plans to announce today.

Lycos Mail will now offer its subscribers 3GB of storage, up from just 5MB, and will allow them to send file attachments of any size, said Brian Kalinowski, Lycos's chief operating officer.

With these improvements, Lycos wants to meet increasing demands for exchanging large media files such as photos, video clips and songs via email, he said.

Webmail is a key offering for portals because users form strong attachments to their email accounts, which keeps them coming back and using other online services. Lycos, a pioneer web portal, is focusing its comeback attempts on broadband entertainment content. It ranked as the 24th most popular website network in the US in May with almost 24 million unique visitors, according to comScore Networks. Yahoo came top with almost 129 million unique visitors.

Lycos has been migrating its Lycos Mail members to the new system, which it is adopting from its South Korean parent company Daum Communications. Changes to the user interface will be minor so the migration should be fairly transparent to users, Kalinowski said. A user-interface upgrade with Ajax functionality is planned for later.

Lycos hopes the upgrade will significantly increase the Lycos Mail user base of about one million by attracting new users such as teenagers looking for their first webmail account, Kalinowski said. In other words, Lycos is hoping to lure members of the 'iPod generation' and not so much someone who has been using a competing webmail service for 10 years.

Lycos Mail is free but contains adverts, and its accounts are deleted if they aren't checked at least once every 30 days. For $5.95 (about £3.20) per year, members can upgrade the account so that it's preserved even if it isn't checked once a month. Another upgrade option exists for $19.95 (£10.65) per year, which removes graphical adverts and increases the storage to 5GB. All versions of Lycos Mail offer virus scanning but none offer virus cleaning.