It does not take long to generate a fairly large list of old posts. This will make #54 for me, and I have not been a very prolific writer, especially the first couple of months. Keeping your older words of wisdom easily available to your newer readers is one of the challenges facing anyone that has been writing for a long period. Some ways to handle it are mentioned in one of my earlier plugin posts. Here are some plugins that try to help out on a larger scale.
The biggest problem with this plugin is not really anything in the plugin itself. It is the documentation. The installation page tells you the shortcodes available for use with the plugin. What is not included are various options you can add to the shortcode to customize the appearance of the list. The only shortcode options that are easy to find are the ones you can already control from the option page. The options to turn off showing the post and comment counts are in the Changelog. All the parameters available should be in one easy to find place.
Since that is the biggest problem I found with the plugin, it is fairly obvious that I think it is very nice otherwise. Easy to install, sorts your posts by month, and neatly collapses them. If that is what you want on your archive page, or even your sidebar, this is a good choice.
Simple Yearly Archive also gives you a shortcode for use on an Archive page. It lists your posts by year, newest to oldest. You have a few options, mostly having to do with the way the list looks. There are check boxes that toggle showing post counts, comment counts, categories, and even the excerpt of the post. And there are some parameters you can add to the shortcode, controlling exactly what year or years are shown, and excluding particular categories from appearing.
There is a nice array of options with this plugin, and it is quite easy to use. The very limited breakdown of posts, just yearly lists, not even breaking the list into months, does limit the usefulness somewhat. The ability to decide what years are shown, does help this somewhat, but it basically means multiple pages of archive pages for large blogs that have been around a while. A useful plugin, but probably not for everyone.
Collapsing Archives gives you a widget for your sidebar. In something a bit different, the options page under Settings only gives you access to the CSS that is used by the plugin. All other options are taken care of on the widget itself.
And there are a lot of options. You have the choice of 4 different characters for expanding and collapsing the archives, the order they are shown, whether or not the post titles and dates are shown, even what years and/or categories will be shown. And you can have multiple widgets, if you want things split up by years or categories in different places on your sidebar. All in all, a very nice plugin, easy to install, easy to use, and even easy to style if you want.
Flexo Archives only has two options, the name you want on the widget and whether post counts are shown. The widget gives a list of the years you blog covers, which expand when you click on them to show the months in that year. Clicking on the month takes you to your archive page for that month.
While limited in options, it does what it says it will and is very simple to install and use. This can easily cover what most people need in an archive plugin, so give it serious consideration.
AWSOM Archive (formerly known as AWSOM Drop Down Archive) is a different way of presenting your posts. It creates a dropdown listing of all your posts at the top of your index page and your single post pages. You can also place the listing where you want it by either editing your PHP files or using a code provided. Other options include some CSS styling, limiting the dropdown menu to showing the months that have posts, or using custom setups for what is shown. You can even limit the dropdown to particular categories, if you have another plugin installed.
The customizations available are nice, but unless you are familiar with the WordPress tags, you will have to do some playing with them to get exactly what you want. And the requirement for another plugin, from a different developer, makes the sorting by category options less then desirable. And for at least some people, including me, the plugin does not show up on the installed plugin page.
There are some nice features in this plugin, and the customization options are nice. But the difficulty in using some of the features, and the possibility of not seeing it on your plugin page, mean you should think carefully about trying it out. If you do not know the WP tags or are not comfortable playing with them to figure them out, you lose a lot of the options available and can probably find something else that works for you more easily.
Most of the ways of keeping your archives easily available use some kind of collapsing ability. This is not surprising, it is the easiest way of handling a large number of old posts. What it basically comes down to is exactly how do you want the links to your posts to be displayed.
Simple Yearly and Clean Archives Reloaded give you a way to place your archives on a separate page, while Flexo Archives and Collapsing Archives, along with Clean Archives Reloaded, give you some ways to put them in your sidebar. And AWSOM Archive is one of the few that doesn’t use a collapsing interface, at the price of some complexity. One of them should do want you want for keeping your pearls of wisdom in available for your readers.