Shredder Reviews

Editor's Note: While the importance of securing online files, email and other data has become clear thanks to recent headlines, the best way to secure paper records like old checks, sensitive correspondence and the like is with one of the quality shredders highlighted in this report.
 
Fellowes Powershred 99Ci
Specs that Matter
Cut type -- crosscutCut size – 0.156" x 1.5"Bin capacity – 9 gallons
Best Reviewed
Best office shredder
Fellowes Powershred 99Ci

The Fellowes Powershred 99Ci is the best paper shredder for small- to medium-sized offices. Both experts and users say it shreds credit cards, staples, paper clips, data discs, and unopened junk mail into small strips without jamming. This console shredder has a pull-out bin for easy emptying, runs quietly, and strong safety features. It comes with a two-year warranty and the company's customer service is well regarded.

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Fellowes Powershred 99Ci 100% Jam Proof 18-Sheet Cross-Cut Heavy Duty Paper Shredder (3229901)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $219.99 $199.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
Staples SPL-TXC24A
Specs that Matter
Cut type -- crosscutCut size – 0.156" x 1.58"Bin capacity – 8 gallons
Runner Up
High-volume office shredder
Staples SPL-TXC24A

The Staples SPL-TXC24A is a good choice for offices with high-volume shredding needs. It can take up to 24 pages at once, and it can handle credit cards, discs, paper clips, and junk mail and more with ease. Reviews indicate it's pretty quiet and almost impossible to jam. Run times are impressive as well -- up to 20 minutes most say.

Fellowes Powershred 79Ci
Specs that Matter
Cut type -- crosscutCut size – 0.156" x 1.5"Bin capacity – 6 gallons
Best Reviewed
Best home shredder
Fellowes Powershred 79Ci

The Fellowes Powershred 79Ci gets more recommendations than any other paper shredder. Perfect for home use, this light-duty shredder can shred 6 to 12 sheets of paper at a time, and can deal with credit cards, data discs, junk mail, staples, paper clips and more without skipping a beat. It combines good safety features with quiet operation, a pull-out waste bin, and jam-free performance.

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Fellowes Powershred 79Ci 100% Jam Proof 16-Sheet Cross-Cut Heavy Duty Paper Shredder (3227901)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $169.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper and Credit Card Shredder
Specs that Matter
Cut type -- crosscutCut size -- 0.2" x 1.8"Bin capacity – 3.8 gallons
Best Reviewed
Best cheap shredder
AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper and Credit Card Shredder

The AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper and Credit Card Shredder can't do anything fancy, but it's a good basic performer at a bargain-basement price. It can process up to 6 sheets of paper at a time, or a single credit card, and it won't jam as long as you don't overfeed it. It only runs for a few minutes at a stretch, but that's plenty long for most users.

Shredders let you destroy documents securely

Paper shredders can help protect your privacy by shredding documents into bits so small that the information they contain is illegible. Most shredders today can shred credit cards as well as paper, and won't skip a beat if you leave behind some staples or small paper clips. Some can even shred CDs and DVDs, which is useful for destroying backup discs with private information. But why should you buy a shredder? What are the chances someone will go through your trash, anyway?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 17.6 million people -- 7 percent of the U.S. adult population --were victims of some form of identity theft in 2014, and there's no sign of that letting up as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported a 47 percent jump in identity theft complaints in 2015. Some of the thieves hacked into their victims' accounts online, but others lifted their personal information off paper documents. To protect yourself from that latter type of theft, the FTC recommends shredding all documents with account numbers on them -- including "receipts, credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, and similar documents" -- as soon as you no longer need them.

Types of Shredders
Office Shredders

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.

Home Shredders

Heavy-duty office paper shredders are great for businesses that need to shred documents on a regular basis. Home and home office users, however, may find these types of shredders to be overkill. For them, a smaller paper shredder that takes fewer sheets at a time can do a perfectly adequate job at a much more attractive price.

Shredders and security

Paper shredders offer different degrees of information security:

  • Strip-cut shredders, which cut paper into long, noodle-like strips, can handle higher volumes, but they're also the least secure type. They're also pretty rare these days; even the cheapest paper shredder covered in this report is a crosscut model.
  • Crosscut shredders (also called confetti-cut shredders) cut paper lengthwise and crosswise, which makes it more difficult to piece together documents that are still legible. We found recommendations for crosscut paper shredders ranging from $25 to $280.
  • Micro-cut shredders are the most secure; they chew paper into tiny, diamond-shaped scraps. They're also the most expensive; we didn't find recommendations for any cheaper than $400.

Paper shredders often are rated on a six-point security scale, with 6 being the most secure. For private personal or business documents, experts recommend crosscut shredders with a security level of 3 or higher. Office Depot posts a handy chart describing paper-shredder security ratings on its website and showing examples of how finely the different kinds of shredders destroy documents.

Paper shredder styles

Wastebasket paper shredders, which are the size of a small trashcan, are usually adequate for personal use -- that is, light-volume needs like shredding tax forms or monthly bills with private information. The downside to these is that they typically have smaller bin capacities than other shredder types, and you have to lift the motor and cutters off the bin to empty it.

Console-style paper shredders, on the other hand, have bins that you can simply pull out to empty. Console shredders tend to be more expensive than wastebasket-style shredders, but they're much more convenient for heavy users.

In addition to the style of your shredder, you need to consider its run time and feed capacity. Run time is the maximum number of minutes a shredder can work without needing a cool-down period; exceeding this limit can overheat and possibly damage the shredder. Feed capacity is the number of pages a shredder can claw through at once, and it's a figure that manufacturers tend to exaggerate. If your paper shredder says it can accept 8 sheets, 6 is a safer bet; if it says it can handle 24 sheets, it probably can't exceed 20.

Paper shredder safety

Because paper shredders are powerful enough to chew through flesh as well as paper, safety features are key. Slots should be slim to minimize the chance that a finger will be inserted; separate thicker slots for credit cards and data discs should have safety covers. If you have children or pets, it's wise to consider a shredder with lock-out capabilities or one that will shut off automatically if a finger gets too close to the insertion slot. If you have an older paper shredder that doesn't include these safety features, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offers a list of safety guidelines for using it.

Finding The Best Shredders
Our Sources1. PCMag.com
The Best Shredders for Tax Time and Beyond2. PC World
Destroy them all: We brutally review 5 professional document shredders3. Wired
Shred, White and Blue: 5 Document Shredders TestedSee All

The paper shredders covered in our report were selected for performance, security, and ease of use. We looked at their specs for shredding speed, feed capacity, run time, and safety features. Professional reviews from computer publications such as PC World and Wired, as well as consumer magazines like ConsumerReports.org and Good Housekeeping, helped us evaluate how fast and quiet the machines are and how easily they jam. Finally, user reviews from retail sites such as Amazon.com, Staples.com, and OfficeDepot.com showed us how well the shredders hold up during real-world use.

Elsewhere in This Report