Last updated: July 1, 2020

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The world of work today involves the handling, signing and delivery of paper and documents. Although this is not the ideal scenario, since we would prefer a more ecological way of doing things, paper is part of our lives. Many times, we deal with confidential information or sensitive data, and there comes a point where we need to maintain privacy. What can we do?

Fortunately, today almost all companies and offices have paper shredders that save us the worry of leaving documents out in plain view that have a high degree of privacy. Do you already know all about paper shredders? If not, don’t worry. The guide you are about to read will teach you everything you need to know about these useful office machines.

Key Facts

  • Paper shredders help us get rid of papers, documents and all kinds of written material that either accumulate as surplus in offices, or are confidential information that we do not want to share.
  • While paper shredders were originally strictly mechanical tools, newer models are almost all electric. Therefore, you will need a power supply to make them work.
  • Various paper shredders differ in their shredding speed, sheet capacity, and amount of waste that the bag can hold as well as many other functions and features. Therefore, it is important to be clear about your specific needs.

Our Selection of the Best Paper Shredders on the U.S. Market

In most offices there is usually an unwritten rule: any document from the printer that is no longer necessary and contains a signature, account numbers or sensitive external customer data, must be shredded. Paper shredders come to our aid so that this task is not tedious and time-consuming. If you are thinking about which model paper shredder to buy, we recommend this compilation that brings together the best in the market today.

Best Home Office Paper Shredder

This affordable Amazon’s Choice paper shredder is perfect for light use in a small business or home office, the cross-cut shredder conveniently fits under a desk or other workstation for easy access throughout the day. Even more, the shredder removes effortlessly when it’s time to empty the bin.  At under $40.00 it is a great value, as well.

Best Handheld Paper Shredder

At only $19.99, this USB powered paper shredder is perfect for travelers, notebook users or anyone with limited space. This paper shredder will cut any sheet or envelope up to 4.5-inches wide into thin strips. It also features a forward and reverse button for easy control and can run on four AA batteries (not included) when a USB port is unavailable.

Best Heavy-Duty Paper Shredder

With a 4.4 out of 5 star rating and 1700 reviews, this workhorse is a tried-and-tru product from famous make Fellowes. Shreds 18 sheets of paper per pass into cross-cut particles; shreds staples, credit cards, paper clips, CDs/DVDs, junk mail. Runs up to 30 minutes, and is on casters to roll over to wherever you need it next.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Paper Shredders

Paper shredders are those typical office supplies that, when we acquire them, we cannot believe how we ever  lived without them. They help us to become more organized and provide us with security regarding documents or data in danger of being exposed. If you want to know more about paper shredders, keep reading this section, which covers the most common questions among potential users.

Man shredding

Paper shredders come with different types of cuts.
(Source: loganban: 25910937/ 123rf.com)

What exactly are paper shredders?

Paper shredders are devices that shred or destroy documents, envelopes or other written items on thin materials, so that the information they contain will no longer be accessible. Its main function, is to ensure that confidential data is not disclosed or unduly exposed.

How do paper shredders work?

Originally, paper shredders had mechanical operating systems. Today, perhaps due to the increasing number of documents, both in domestic and work environments, most of these devices are electric. Therefore it is necessary to have a power supply. It is advisable to connect the shredder directly to the wall.

Javier Areitio BertolínProfessor of the Faculty of Engineering (University of Deusto)

“Paper shredders are tools that protect the confidentiality of data and defend us from attacks on privacy.”

Do paper shredders need some kind of installation or configuration?

Not at all. Although they are electrical appliances, there is practically nothing to do but shred, once you have them plugged in. Simply press the power button and insert the paper or other written material into the corresponding slot so that the shredder starts working immediately making specific cuts.

What kinds of cuts do paper shredders make?

As is often the case with office appliances, not all paper shredders are the same. This means that not all sheets or documents are shredded in the same way. Usually, there are different types of cuts made according to the needs of the users. However, it is possible to identify 4 classes of cuts that appear in various models, as shown in the following table.

Straight-cut Shredders Cross Cut Shredders Micro-cut Shredders Cryptographic cutting shredders
Shred the paper into long strips.

They are ideal for basic and occasional shredding.

They generate wide strips of paper.

Shred the paper into cross- cut pieces.

They are safer than straight cut shredders.

They are faster than micro-cuts.

They offer the highest level of security.

They shred the paper into pieces the size of confetti, that is, very tiny.

Reduce paper to the smallest particles.

Usually the kind used by governments and military operations.

Can I put things other than paper into a paper shredder?

Although it sounds a bit strange, yes. Although paper is the usual material that we introduce in these shredders, the reality is that the latest models already are able to shred other things. An example is cardboard, cardstock and transparent sheets. It is also very common that today’s shredders have special slots for CDs and DVDs.

What is the reverse function of a paper shredder?

When working with large volumes of paper on a daily basis, it is normal for shredders to stop working whenever paper jams occur. Paper jams sometimes originate from staples or paper clips that pass through the crusher. The reverse function, therefore, allows the cutting mechanism to reverse the motion to clear the jam and reset the device.

introducing a paper into a shredder

Choose the paper shredder that best suits your individual needs.
(Source: Christian Martinez Kempin: 35182333/ 123rf.com)

How do you measure the level of confidentiality offered by paper shredders?

If what concerns you most is the privacy and confidentiality of the information you are shredding, it is logical that you will lean towards models that offer the highest standards of data security. This is generally measured based on the number of pieces that a paper shredder generates from a single sheet of paper.

Paper shredders have a classification by levels, ranging from P-1 to P-7. This classification indicates the size of the pieces, in the case of particle cutting, and the width of the strips, for strip-shaped cutting.

What safety measures do paper shredders offer regarding their use?

Using paper shredders is relatively simple, as we have explained, but this does not mean that you do not need pay attention to its operation. Like any electrical device, there is always the possibility of common accidents or breakdowns. Because of this, there are certain security measures that you should observe.

  • It should have a reverse function to avoid paper jams.
  • The trash can (the waste container) should have a safety lid that stops the shredding action if it is full.
  • The shredder should stop automatically every time it becomes too hot.
    The safest ones also have access codes to access the wastebasket, keeping the pieces away from the wrong people.

Do all paper shredders have wheels?

Not all. This feature is very useful, since paper shredders with wheels facilitate their movement and mobility around the office or in homes. If, for example, you do not use the shredder every day and you need to store it, having wheels allows you to take them to the part of the office where it is needed to destroy the relevant documents.

Do paper shredders contribute to taking care of the environment?

Yes, because they help with recycling. Companies and offices generate a lot of garbage, mostly in the form of paper documents or cardboard items. Therefore, with a paper shredder we can shred folders, index cards, paper and other materials that occupy less space, to recycle them more efficiently.

Woman destroying document with shredder in office

Paper shredders are very useful in office environments.
(Source: Belchonock: 99569239/ 123rf.com)

Shopping Criteria

A paper shredder can become your ally in a work environment or in your home. To choose the right model, it is important to know exactly what your objectives are and the volume of paper you will shred each day. In this section, we will summarize the fundamental purchase criteria that you must take into account.

Security

Like all electrical appliances, the first thing is to make sure of is that your paper shredder is safe. This involves some features such as locking systems, reverse function and protection against overheating. These are features that can prevent accidents in our work and home environments.

Businessman shredding documents

Some models can shred paper with a “silent” mode.
(Source: loganban: 25911002/ 123rf.com)

Data Security

If the main objective of a paper shredder is to protect the confidentiality of information, you must make sure that it is truly protected. Depending on the degree of security and privacy that you need, you will need a different types of cut made by the device, how many pieces the sheet shreds into and if it has, for example, an access code/lock for the wastebasket section.

Size and portability

Paper shredders designs are varied according to their daily document management capacity. The idea is that it works as an accessory and, as such, goes as unnoticed as possible. Therefore, it is advisable to look for low-profile models, which do not take up much space and, whenever possible, models with wheels to facilitate mobility.

Jesús Valor RamónQuality Coordinator of DestruPack

“Through well-used paper shredders we take care of nature and respect the environment with maximum guarantees in biosafety.”

Silent Mode

Whether we use paper shredders in our homes or at work, it is essential that they do not disturb our work environment. Noisy shredders can distracts us from important work. Therefore, it is worth looking for models that have a “silent mode.” Over time, it is a feature you will appreciate.

Shredding Volume

Paper shredders do not all have the same capacity for shredding documents. As this is its main function, it is recommended that you think very carefully about the volume of paper shredding you will need to do so that you can always complete your work. There are models whose active periods are very short, which can slow down work processes, and create risky situations.

Versatility

As we have explained, many paper shredders can shred other materials besides paper. Since we usually have all kinds of waste in our offices or homes, it is better to look for a versatile model, capable of helping us get rid of everything we need to: for example, credit cards, CDs or DVDs, cardboard sheets and folder, among other materials.

Summary

Paper shredders are tools that are used mainly to shred sheets of paper, although they are also suitable for shredding other materials, in order to eliminate excess waste and, more importantly, to protect the confidentiality and privacy of sensitive data. They are mostly electrical devices, so they need a power supply.

Paper shredders can make different types of cuts, they have different shredding capacities and have different levels of security depending on the degree of confidentiality of the documents intended to be destroyed.

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(Source of Featured Image: Jelena Ivanovic: 26811401/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Brett Holmes Technology Geek
Brett is a keen observer of the latest technology trends and knows his way around the industry because he runs an electronics store. He writes about it in his spare time and wants to help others learn more about the technology industry.