1. Which provider is the best?
2. What does an SSL certificate cost? I have seen prices range from 1000’s to free. A typical ssl will run between 800 (verisign) to 50 (godaddy). Price can very on the strength of the cert, security assurance, wild cards and warranty. Free SSL certs are available and you can generate your own.
3. Which of the cheaper providers are the best?
If you do a search for SSL purchase you will find dozens of providers and ranges of pricing. Almost all the major hosting providers offer ssl cert now. I am not sure when these providers started, but competition is good. In the early days of iis 4 you really only had a few choices of providers. I have not done a shoot-out or comparison of providers but I can say that in my experience that godaddy does offer a very attractive price and robust ssl cert. I have used them frequently in the last year with great success.
4. Should I self ssl?
Self SSL is a term where a server will sign it’s own certificate. This is commonly used in internal sites(intranet) where the data is needed to be encrypted by local trusted computers. Self SSL’s are good to secure data that is not of high value. It is not recommended to use a self signing ssl on your e commerce site.
5. Are their Free SSL providers?
Yes, there are some free providers that will validate and sign your certificate. I am a big fan of CAcert. I use them frequently. However, I will say the same thing, you should not use this on a site where security is critical say an e commerce site. I use these certs to secure (dashboards, admin sections of sites, development environments, QA sites, user administration, etc…)
All of the information I have discussed is from my experiences. There are a few great references out there for you to read before listening to my selections. I recommend reading the ssl comparison from (WhichsSL) http://www.whichssl.com/comparisons/index.html