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Best Home Shredders

By: Amy Livingston on September 13, 2017

Home shredders protect your personal information

Among lighter duty shredders that are geared to home or home office use, the Fellowes Powershred 79Ci (Est. $170) gets very positive reviews from both professional testers and owners at retail sites like Amazon.com, Staples.com, and OfficeDepot.com. This was by far the fastest shredder in tests at TechGearLab, devouring 140 sheets per minute – nearly twice as many as the nearest competitor. It's also the quietest machine in the test and the easiest to use, with simple controls and useful indicator lights. It cuts paper into .16-by 1.5-inch pieces.

The Powershred 79Ci is a console shredder, so you don't need to lift off the motor and cutters every time the 6-gallon bin needs emptying -- but at 21.3-inches high, it's still short enough to tuck under a desk. It's rated for 16 sheets per pass, but some users say that this volume produces an overload warning and that the shredder does a much better job with about half as many sheets. Its claimed 20-minute run time is also exaggerated, according to Billy Brown of Wired magazine; in his tests, the auto-shutoff flipped the machine off after only 12 minutes of use, and it required 20 minutes to cool off.

One feature that impresses reviewers is the 79Ci's anti-jam technology, which alerts you if you try to feed a bundle of paper that's too thick for it. Billy Brown of Wired magazine says the shredder chews through file folders, data discs, and paper clips with ease. Misfeeds are no problem either; Brown 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, other reviewers warn that the anti-jam feature isn't foolproof. Tony Hoffman of PCMag.com says the shredder jammed when he force-fed it a stack of 18 sheets, and clearing the jam was a hassle. TechGearLab reports that it jammed with just 14 sheets and also choked on some junk mail envelopes – typically those with plastic window inserts.

Users like the Powershred 79Ci for its smooth, quiet operation, sturdy build, and safety sensor that automatically shuts off the machine if a hand touches the paper-insertion slot. However, many of them complain that it's difficult to empty the basket without making a mess. You can use a plastic liner, but several users complain that the way the bin is designed tends to tear the bags. The Powershred 79Ci has a two-year warranty, with a lifetime warranty on the cutter.

If your shredding needs – and your budget – are more modest, consider the AmazonBasics 12-Sheet High-Security Micro-Cut (Est. $100). This small shredder can't handle nearly as high a volume as the Fellowes; in tests at TechGearLab, it can only process about half as many sheets per minute, and it can only shred for 8 minutes at a time before requiring a 45-minute cool-down. Its shred size is noticeably smaller than the Fellowes' – approximately .16 by 0.5 inches – and it can reduce credit cards and data disks to fragments this size as well. This combination of "top notch security and decent speed" earns it the top rating from TechGearLab's test, even trumping the faster Fellowes shredder.

Like the Fellowes, the AmazonBasics is a console shredder. Its pull-out bin is smaller, at 6.7 gallons, but its smaller shred size means you can squeeze more sheets into this space before it needs emptying. It's rated for 12 sheets per minute, and some reviewers – including the ones at TechGearLab – say it really can handle that many, but other owners say it can only take about six sheets. However, all reviewers generally agree that shredding is reasonably smooth and jam free. It's also reasonably quiet; TechGearLab describes the noise as a "fairly tolerable low pitched moan." Amazon backs the shredder with a limited 1-year warranty.

A cheap shredder for personal use only

If you only plan to shred paper on occasion and don't need to destroy disks or bulky junk mail, a cheap paper shredder could be a good fit. The cheapest paper shredders are less powerful than pricier models and typically don't offer the same convenience and safety features, but they're smaller in size and generally adequate for personal use.

In this price category, we found the most positive feedback for the AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Cross-Cut (Est. $30).This shredder receives a solid score of 4.3 stars out of 5 from more than 8,000 reviewers at Amazon.com. It can shred up to six sheets of paper or one credit card; it can also handle staples and small paper clips. However, it can't handle data disks, and it can only run for 2 minutes at a time before requiring a 30-minute cool-down. Since this is a basket-style shredder, you have to lift the cutting mechanism off to empty it, but most reviewers don't find that a big problem since the whole thing weighs only 8 pounds.

TechGearLab gives this shredder a middling score of 58 out of 100. It's reasonably fast, at about 60 sheets per minute, but it's also one of the noisiest machines in the test, and it sometimes struggles with junk mail envelopes. Users at Amazon.com say this small, inexpensive shredder is reliable and seldom jams. Perhaps the biggest problem with the shredder is that the pieces it produces are short but wide – approximately 1.8 inches by 0.2 inches. This could make it easier for a thief to piece documents back together, but for home users that rarely shred very sensitive documents, it might be all you need. Users also have a few complaints about the shredder's durability and small bin capacity (3.8 gallons). But despite these drawbacks, most owners consider this basic paper shredder a good value at $30.

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  • Crosscut shredding.
  • Fast shred speeds.
  • Jam-free operation.

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