Small businesses, and individuals who need to shred lots of sensitive documents, need a shredder that can stand up to a heavy workload. The best paper shredders for office use have longer run times and larger bin capacities than home shredders, and they can chew through bundles of paper, credit cards or data discs at much faster speeds. If your shredding needs are lighter—or your budget is tighter—consider a shredder geared for personal or home use.
For small offices, the Fellowes Powershred 99Ci (Est. $210) earns more recommendations than any other paper shredder. This is a console shredder with a 9-gallon bin that pulls out for easy emptying. You feed paper into the top of the machine, but facing sideways rather than away from you, which gives the machine a deeper and narrower footprint than most shredders. The Powershred 99Ci can shred junk mail, data discs, credit cards, and file folders as well as plain office paper.
The feature reviewers like best about the Powershred 99Ci is its anti-jamming sensors. If they sense that you're trying to feed in a stack too thick for the machine, they'll alert you so you can pull it back out before it causes a jam. However, even if you miss the warning, the shredder will simply push the sheets back out in reverse and make another attempt to chew through them. Misfeeds are no problem either; Billy Brown of Wired magazine says the paper shredder simply pushes them right through, "crumpling up diagonally-fed sheets and turning them all into 1.5-inch-long strips." However, Tony Hoffman of PCMag.com warns that the anti-jamming technology isn't foolproof, and "Clearing jams that do occur can be rather arduous."
Fellowes claims that the Powershred 99Ci can consume 17 sheets of paper at a time. Hoffman says this claim is "just about accurate," and some users at retail sites agree; however, others say it's an overstatement and the real feed capacity is closer to 7 sheets. Reviewers also dispute the alleged run time of 25 minutes; according to Hoffman, the auto-shutoff flipped the machine off after only 12 minutes of use, and it required 20 minutes to cool off. On the plus side, reviewers agree that staples and paper clips pose no problems for the shredder.
Customer service also appears to be a cut above. The manufacturer seems responsive not only to direct complaints but also to owner feedback on sites like Amazon.com and Staples.com. Fellowes offers a two-year warranty on the shredder itself and a lifetime warranty for the cutters.
While the Fellowes Powershred 99Ci is great for small to mid-size offices, it's not ideal for heavy use. For churning through large stacks of paper, reviewers recommend the Staples SPL-TXC24A (Est. $300). Christopher Null of PC World calls it a "bruiser," saying it accepts just about anything—stapled or paper-clipped documents, credit cards, junk mail, data disks—and "chews it up without complaint." Users at Staples.com agree that its feed capacity is impressive, though they say it's closer to 18 or 20 sheets than the 24 the manufacturer claims. Most also say the claimed run time of 20 minutes is accurate, although a few complain that their machines overheated after just a few minutes of use.
Like the Fellowes, the Staples paper shredder is virtually jam-free. Null says it can easily handle a stack of two junk-mail envelopes, while most shredders would "choke on just one." Users at Staples.com are pleased with the shredder's smooth and fairly quiet operation, but they have a couple of gripes. First of all, they say, the 8-gallon bin tends to fill up unevenly, with paper shreds piling up in one tall mound, causing the machine's sensors to trip the "full" signal when the bin is only around half full. Second, several users say they had problems with the on/off switch. It needs to be pressed twice to wake the machine up from its sleep cycle. Also, the machine won't turn back on unless the bag is secured very snugly against the plastic tab that holds it in the bin. Neither of these problems is covered in the user manual, and owners are miffed at how hard it was to find the solutions. Still, most users think this is a good paper shredder for the money. The machine is backed by a 3-year warranty.
One problem with both the Fellowes and Staples paper shredders is that the strips they produce are about 1.5 inches long and 0.16 inches wide. That's small enough to deter casual thieves, but it might not stop a really determined spy. So businesses where security is a top concern should consider the GoEcoLife GMC205Pi (Est. $500), which reduces documents to confetti that's a mere 0.12 by 0.35 inches in size. This paper shredder also boasts a couple of extra features its competitors don't have. First, the feed slot is on the front rather than the top, so you can keep it under a desk without blocking access. And for the environmentally conscious, the machine bears a CarbonFree certification from Carbonfund.org.
At Wired, Brown gives the GoEcoLife GMC205Pi a rating of 8 points out of 10 in his roundup of shredders, saying it's the best machine for "destroying everything in your office": paper, credit cards, and data discs. He found it accepts its claimed capacity of 20 sheets with ease, "turning everything into unreadable, gravel-sized particles." Both Brown and PC World's Null note in their reviews that the GoEcoLife is very resistant to jamming: misfed sheets, bulky junk-mail envelopes, and stacks of folders go through "without a hiccup." Its 7.85-gallon waste bin is also ample. One possible snag, however, is run time. Although the machine is supposed to operate for 20 minutes at a stretch, Brown says it started giving off smoke after 15 minutes of high-volume shredding.
The other big downside of the GoEcoLife is its price. With a suggested retail price of $500, the GoEcoLife paper shredder is about twice as pricey as its competitors. However, Costco members can get an identical model, the GoEcoLife CM2000 (Est. $350), for about $150 less, and users at Costco.com confirm that this shredder performs just as well as its twin. The GoEcoLife has a warranty of 2 years for the paper shredder and 7 years for the cutter, but reviews of the company's service are inconsistent. Some Costco reviewers say replacing their damaged shredders was hassle-free, while others complain that the company didn't return phone calls or was "uncooperative."