How to choose a paper shredder

Posted on October 13, 2009 by Dan Dalton

Document shredding is an essential component of office security and maintenance. With all the paper shredders on the market,  it's hard to know which model will best suit your needs. Our paper shredder guide will help you narrow down your options. 

The three most important factors to consider when choosing a paper shredder are:

How often you have to shred paper?
How many people will use the paper shredder?
What kind of documents do you need to shred?

Paper Shredder Capacity

How much paper do you shred at a time? Some shredders can handle more documents than others. How many people will use the paper shredder? Some shredders require a cooling off period after each use, while other can run continuously throughout the day.  Your office probably does twice as much document shredding as you think, so be generous in your estimates.  You don't want to burn out your paper shredder's motor in the middle of job, after all. 

Continuous Paper Shredders

Commercial Paper Shredders

Office Paper Shredders

Desk/Home Paper Shredders

Continuous Paper Shredder

Continuous shredders can run all day, and don't require a cooling off period between jobs. Best for mail rooms, copy rooms, or any place that regularly handles large amounts of sensitive documents.

Commercial Paper Shredders

Commercial shredders can handle up to 500 sheets a job, and can run up for to 45 minutes before requiring a cool down period. Ideal for offices with multiple users.

Office Paper Shredder

Office shredders can handle up to 250 sheets per job and run for up to 25 minutes before requiring a cool down period. Ideal for offices with 1-5 users. 

Desk/Home Paper Shredder

Light-duty shredders can handle up to 50 sheets per document shredding job, and can run for up to 10 minutes before requiring a cool down period. Perfect for your home office, or by your desk.

Keep your shredder in good working order by applying shredder oil every time you empty the basket.

Paper Shredder Styles

Once you've determined how much you shred, there are three things to consider before choosing a paper shredder.

Do you regularly oversized documents? Consider a paper shredder with a wide throat. The wider the shredder throat, the larger the sheets a shredder can accommodate. Additionally, wider allow your to you send more disorganized stacks of paper through the shredder, which means less time sorting them out. Most shredders can handle staples and paper clips. Some shredders also allow for credit card and CD shredding. However, there are a few materials you should never put through your shredder:

- envelopes and labels: the adhesives gum up the blades
- newspaper
- carbon copies
- plastic, transparencies and laminated materials
- file folders

Your security needs are the most important factor in choosing a paper shredder. Shredders are available in four styles that offer different levels of security.

Strip-Cut Shredders

Basic shredders cut documents into ¼” strips, significantly cutting down on waste bulk, but providing the lowest level of security.  

Cross-Cut Shredders

Confetti shredders reduce a sheet of paper  to approximately 300 small chunks. This allows for more secure shredding and waste compaction. 

Micro-Cut Shredders

Micro-cut shredders reduce an a sheet of paper to more than 3,500 pieces, satisfying most security concerns.

High-Security Shredders

High-security micro-cut shredders are the most secure shredding option. Shredded documents are virtually impossible to reassemble.


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