How to Choose a Paper Shredder

Three Methods:Selecting the Security LevelChoosing Advanced FeaturesAvoiding Common Pitfalls with Paper Shredders

An increasing number of businesses and individuals are choosing to use paper shredders. Using a shredder provides protection against identity theft and other crimes. Shredders are now easier to use and have improved security and safety features. Understanding available features will aid you in choosing a shredder that fits your needs.

Method 1
Selecting the Security Level

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    Try a low-level security shredder. A strip-cut paper shredder cuts a standard letter size paper into about 40-50 strips. This type of shredder typically produces the largest size strips of paper.
    • Strip-cut was the original style of shredder and offers the lowest level of security. It is still a big step above tearing something up and throwing it in the trash.
    • Strip-cut shredders are sometimes less expensive than other types of shredders.
    • To decide whether a strip-cut paper shredder will suffice, determine what you need to shred. How sensitive is the information? Strip-cut shredders are good for those who do not dispose high-level security documents.[1]
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    Consider a mid-level security shredder. A cross-cut paper shredder is also known as a confetti-cut shredder. This is the most popular type of paper shredder. It offers a higher level of security than the strip-cut variety. A standard letter size paper is cut into over 200 small square pieces.
    • It is difficult to retrieve sensitive information from documents fed through a confetti-cut shredder. This is good for sensitive information like bank account and credit card numbers.
    • Some computer programs piece together documents shredded into strips. It is next to impossible to decipher anything shredded into small confetti sized pieces.
    • Since the shredded pieces are so small, you can change the bags of shredded paper less often without it posing a security risk.
    • There is a super cross-cut shredder that will cut a standard letter size paper into over 400 pieces.
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    Advance to a high-level security shredder. A micro-cut paper shredder offers one of the highest levels of security available. This is the best type of shredder if you need to destroy highly sensitive and confidential documents. A standard letter size paper is cut into over 2,000 tiny pieces.
    • It is impossible to retrieve information from a document fed through a micro-cut shredder. This is one reason micro-cut shredders are popular with government agencies and large corporations.[2]
    • These shredders are for people at risk of having classified or secret information stolen.
    • Since the shredded pieces are so small, you can change the bags of shredded paper less often without it posing a security risk.
    • Within the micro-cut shredder family is the super micro-cut shredder. This will cut a standard letter size paper into over 6,200 pieces. There are also high security shredders that cut a standard letter size paper into over 13,000 tiny pieces. This does not diminish the high-level security of the standard micro-cut paper shredder.[3]
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    Find an affordable shredder at all security levels. Whether you choose a strip-cut, cross-cut, or micro-cut shredder, there are affordable options. Although micro-cut shredders tend to be more costly, you can find smaller versions for home use that are relatively affordable at around $100 to $200.[4]
    • High-level micro-cut shredders are generally the most costly type of shredder, often starting around $300 and rising to thousands of dollars. The commercial variety can cost top dollar.[5]

Method 2
Choosing Advanced Features

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    Choose shred speed. The size of shredded pieces is the most important factor in determining what shredder to buy, but shred speed can also be important. If you have a large volume of paper to shred, it can be time consuming with a low shred speed. The speed of the shredder you should purchase depends on whether you're using the shredder at home or at an office.[6]
    • If you're just using your shredder to shred paper at home, a home shredder should meet your needs. Typically, home shredders shred 5 to 12 sheets of paper in 2 to 8 minutes.
    • If you shred paper frequently, you may want a higher shredder speed. If you have a home office, for example, a home office shredder may work for you. These types of shredders usually shred 10 to 18 sheets of paper in 7 to 30 minutes.
    • If you're buying a shredder for a large office, you'll want a very high shredding speed. Go for a heavy duty shredder. These can shred for 45 minutes continually. During this time, 13 to 38 pieces of paper can be shredded.
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    Identify daily usage. Select a shredder rated for the amount of daily usage you think you'll need. This often depends on whether the shredder will be located in a home or in an office setting. Avoid purchasing a shredder that is not powerful enough to meet your daily needs. To determine usage, figure out how many people will use the shredder and how often they will shred paper.[7]
    • Personal shredders are designed for 1 person. Small office shredders are for 1-5 daily users. For larger offices, a general office shredder can support 6-10 people. For 10 or more users, choose a commercial shredder.
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    Determine multiple page capacity. Find out how many sheets a shredder can handle at once. A 5 sheet model may be less costly. If you shred more than the occasional page, you will have to feed a few sheets at a time. Without a multiple page capacity, you may have to unjam the shredder a lot. It's a good idea to choose a shredder with a slightly higher shred capacity than you'll reasonably use. This can cut down on paper jams and other issues.[8]
    • Some commercial shredders will allow you to shred as many as 30 sheets of paper at a time. Most personal shredders only allow a few sheets at a time.
    • The bin capacity is also important. It's a good idea to get a shredder with a pull out bin, they're much easier to remove and empty and this can help reduce paper jams.[9]
    • Inquire about the shredder's run time. If you collect your documents and shred them in bulk, you will need a shredder that can run for a longer period of time. A run cycle can range from around 2 minutes to around 40 minutes.[10]
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    Consider anti-jam technology. Whether you are feeding one or many documents into the shredder, there is the potential for a paper jam. Anti-jam features help to limit this problem and reduce unnecessary frustration.[11]
    • It may be particularly important to go for a shredder with anti-jam technology if you shred a lot of paper. The more paper you're shredding, the more likely your shredder is to jam.
    • Some shredders claim to be 100% jam proof. While it's unlikely any shredder will never jam, jam proof shredders may significantly cut down on jam time.
    • Certain shredders are designed to shred credit cards, paper clips, and many other items.

Method 3
Avoiding Common Pitfalls with Paper Shredders

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    Look for a warranty. The longer the warranty, the better. Although most warranties are for one year, you may find a longer warranty. The warranty will generally cover the mechanical part of the shredder in the event your shredder breaks down prematurely.[12]
    • Try to keep warranties as long as you can, and hold onto your shredder until the warranty expires. To keep track of how long your warranty will last, make a note of the warranty's expiration date in your calendar.
    • Ask in store about warranties. Some warranties may come from the company that makes the shredder itself. However, if you're buying your shredder through a large retail chain, like Best Buy, these stores may offer warranties as well.
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    Note energy saving features. In the long run, energy saving features could save you money in utility expenses. If you do not plan to use the shredder often, this may not be an important factor. However, if you're shredding documents every day, look into energy saving technology. About 80% of a shredder's energy consumption comes from shredding papers, so you can rack up your energy bill fast if you use your shredder frequently.[13]
    • Some shredders claim to reduce energy consumption by up to 70%. Others claim to be 100% energy effective.
    • For the best savings, look for a shredder that promises to maximize energy savings 100% of the time, whether it's being used or not.
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    Make safety a priority. Some shredders have sensors that stop the shredder if hands or other items come too close to the opening. Safety features are important if you have children or animals.[14]
    • Ideally, a shredder should have an automatic shutoff feature. If fingers get too close to a shredder's blades, it should shut off.
    • Check the shredder's box to learn about safety features. If you're buying in store, you can also talk to a worker about safety concerns.
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    Keep the noise level down. Some shredders have a feature that reduces noise by 10 decibels. If you live in an apartment, your neighbors may get annoyed if you have a shredder that's constantly running. Shredders that make a lot of noise can also be irritating for you.[15]
    • Look for paper shredders that promise a quieter job. You may also want to read reviews by other users, specifically looking for reviews that discuss a shredder's noise level.
    • If possible, test a shredder out in store before purchasing it to evaluate how much noise it makes.


  • To prevent the fraudulent use of your personal information, frequently shred all documents with sensitive information, such as credit card and medical applications or forms. [16]
  • Most shredders have a pull-out bin that makes it easy to empty after you are done shredding. Some shredders allow you to capture the shredded paper in a plastic bag.
  • Write down your preferred features before going shopping. Your list may include shred size, shred speed, safety features, jam-free technology, noise reduction, and a warranty.


  • Do not shred papers with staples or paper clips unless specified. If your unit does not list handling staples or paper clips, remove them before shredding. This will prevent damaging your shredder.
  • Keep long hair and loose clothing, such as neckties, away from the shredder opening.
  • Paper shredders use powerful metal teeth and blades. These components can be dangerous, especially to pets and children. Choose a shredder with appropriate safety features and keep it out of the reach of children.

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