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In this report

Fellowes shredders edge out the competition

Small businesses and people who need to shred lots of sensitive documents will need an office shredder that can handle a heavy workload. The best office shredders typically have longer duty cycles and larger bin capacities than home shredders, and they can chew through bundles of paper, credit cards or data discs at much faster speeds than cheaper shredders. If your shredding needs are lighter (and your budget is tighter), however, consider a shredder geared for personal or home use.

When it comes to choosing the best shredder, more reviewers recommend Fellowes shredders than any other brand. At about $220, it's a little on the pricey side, but users praise the Fellowes Powershred 99Ci paper shredder for its safety features, quiet operation and ability to shred bundles of paper or packets of junk mail without jamming. Many owners at Amazon.com say the Powershred 99Ci performs well for small office needs and runs quietly. It's a "console" shredder; its pull-out bin holds up to 9 gallons. It can shred anything from bundled paper to paper clips, credit cards and CDs and DVDs.

While reviewers differ on how accurate its claimed 17-sheet paper capacity really is, most agree that this Fellowes shredder handles large bundles of paper reasonably well. In general, reviewers reporting in at Amazon.com are a happy bunch.

One contributor says the Powershred 99Ci has no problem devouring 10 sheets of paper, staples included. Another reports that the safety features work as expected; the paper shredder's sensor properly detected a child's finger in the paper-insertion slot, shutting down the machine. A third contributor says that the shredder works great for destroying a backlog of documents, about five to six hours over a week's span. Some notice, on the other hand, that the shredder can get hot after just moderate use.

Customer service appears to be a cut above. The manufacturer appears responsive to owner feedback on user review sites like Amazon.com, Fellowes.com and Staples.com. One Amazon.com user -- who initially posted a critical review because of a gear failure -- says Fellowes replaced the paper shredder after seeing the complaint. A two-year warranty covers the shredder itself, and there's a lifetime warranty for the cutters.

While the Fellowes Powershred 99Ci is great for small to mid-size offices, it's not ideal for much more. For shredding needs that border on commercial use, the GoEcoLife GMC205Pi 20-Sheet Micro-Cut Commercial (Est. $600) might do the trick. Wired.com reviewer Billy Brown gives the GoEcoLife GMC205Pi a rating of 8 out of 10 in a roundup of paper shredders, and he says it's best for "destroying everything in your office."

In tests, the shredder has "no problem handling its claimed capacity of 20 sheets at a time, turning everything into unreadable, gravel-sized particles," Brown writes. One caveat, he notes, is that the shredder starts to overheat after about 15 minutes of high-volume shredding.

For those on tighter budgets but who still want flexible media handling abilities, the Staples SPL-TXC122A 12-Sheet High Speed Cross-Cut (Est. $150) is a solid choice. It can shred everything the Fellowes Powershred 99Ci can -- except for paper clips. It earns high marks particularly for its ability to shred unopened junk mail. The main drawback is that it's a wastebasket-style paper shredder, and we found quite a few comments from owners wishing it had a pull-out bin instead.

The Staples SPL-TXC122A runs continuously for up to six minutes -- which isn't impressive compared to other models -- but it shreds at twice the speed of most models. A red lock-out key is the only safety feature; the main power switch is in full view (where a child could reach it easily), and there's no sensor to shut off the shredder if a hand gets too close to the insertion slot. A one-year warranty covers the shredder.

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