Types of 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.
For home and home office users, a heavy-duty office paper shredder can be overkill. A smaller paper shredder that takes fewer sheets at a time can do a perfectly adequate job at a much more attractive price. Security is a little lower than with pricier office shredders, but still more than adequate for typical consumers.
Shredders let you destroy documents securely
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 they 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
to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study conducted by Javelin Strategy &
Research, about 15.4 million people -- 6 percent of the U.S. adult population
--were victims of some form of identity theft in 2016. Many of the thieves
hacked into their victims' accounts online, but those without an online
presence are far from immune. Even worse, the study found that those that are
not "digitally connected" usually take longer to spot fraudulent
usage and are often subject to higher fraud amounts. To completely protect
yourself from theft and fraud, the Federal Trade Commission (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.
Shredders and security
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 $30 to $280.
- Micro-cut shredders are the most
secure; they chew paper into tiny, diamond-shaped scraps. They're also the
most expensive, starting at around $100.
Paper shredders often are rated
on a seven-point security scale, established by the Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN). Level P-1 shredders are the least secure
type, and P-7 is the most secure. For private personal or business documents, the
DIN recommends crosscut shredders with a security level of P-3 or higher. You
can see descriptions of the different security ratings on the DIN website,
along with examples of how finely the different kinds of shredders destroy
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.
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 will work better and last longer if
you keep to 20 or less.
Paper shredder safety
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 features, the Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC) offers a list of safety guidelines for using it.
Finding The Best Shredders
"The Best Paper Shredders of 2017"
"The Best Shredders for Tax Time and Beyond"
"Destroy them all: We brutally review 5 professional document shredders"
found lots of helpful feedback when it came time to create this report. Professional
reviews from computer sites and publications such as PC World and TechGearLab.com,
as well as consumer resources like ConsumerReports.org and Good Housekeeping,
helped us evaluate how fast and quiet the machines are and how easily they jam.
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.
analyzing this data, we considered a number of factors, including performance,
security, and ease of use. We also looked at manufacturer specs for shredding
speed, feed capacity, run time, and safety features, and consulted reviews to
see how well a shredder met those claims. Based on this research, we name the
best shredders for office and home users, as well as some budget models that
perform nearly as well.