Which paper shredders are best?
A paper shredder may not seem like a necessary home appliance, but as personal information becomes more readily available in our digital age, having a sense of privacy is important. Whether it’s an addition to your home office or a way to keep personal matters more secure, a paper shredder is a convenient and easy-to-use tool.
Before choosing the best model for your needs, take some time to consider a few key features, such as cut style, speed, capacity and more. The Fellowes Powershred 99Ci Cross-Cut Paper Shredder is a quick and efficient high-volume model, making it a top choice.
What to know before you buy a paper shredder
Why use a paper shredder?
There are multiple reasons that someone may want to use a paper shredder. Some of these include:
- Disposing of sensitive or confidential information for business or personal reasons
- Preventing fraud or identity theft
- Reducing overall clutter and creating space
- Recycling the shredded scraps to be used in an eco-friendly manner
- Eliminating old or unnecessary documents
The three main shredding styles are strip-cut, cross-cut and micro-cut. Strip-cut paper shredders are designed to produce multiple long strips of paper. This style provides decent protection but can be pieced back together more easily than other cut styles.
Cross-cut shredders, also known as diamond-cut, produce smaller shreds by slicing the paper in strip-cut style, as well as crossways. This makes it exponentially more difficult to reconstruct any shredded document. Micro-cut paper shredders are the most secure, shredding documents into a multitude of small pieces, making it virtually impossible for anyone to reconfigure and steal sensitive data.
What to look for in a quality paper shredder
Type of documents
Some of the best high-end paper shredders can dispose of more than just ordinary paper. Objects like credit cards, business cards, cardboard, CDs and DVDs, thick envelopes, staples and paper clips are no match for powerful machines. If you’re looking to mostly shred standard paper, a more basic model will likely be suitable.
Another feature you’ll want to pay close attention to is the capacity, sometimes referred to as “sheets per pass.” While almost all paper shredders can handle more than one page at a time, some models will be able to handle 20 or more in one shot.
After extended use, even the best paper shredder will need time to cool down before resuming operation. The total runtime can vary from a couple minutes up to almost an hour, depending on the specific model. If you need to shred large quantities of documents in a short amount of time, opt for a device with a longer continuous runtime.
Along with runtime, the overall shredding speed will need to be taken into consideration. Measured in feet per minute, this rating system will give you a basic idea of how quickly your shredder can process documents.
Safety features are important not only to help protect the user from accidental injuries but also to protect the machine itself from malfunctioning. Some shredded will have an overload function to help prevent disruptive paper jams, while others may be equipped with an auto shutoff system and reverse option.
Security levels are measured on a sliding scale ranging from P2 to P7 and relate to the size of the shredded pieces. A P2 security level is the least secure and designed for more casual shredding purposes. P7 is meant for top secret and extremely confidential government or military documents. A majority of home-use shredders will feature a P4 rating.
How much you can expect to spend on a paper shredder
Basic strip-cut models can cost as little as $20, with high-end micro-cut shredders sporting a $300 price tag. Most mid-range options will fall in the $50-$90 range.
Paper shredder FAQ
Do paper shredders need to be oiled?
A. Yes, paper shredders do need to be oiled in order to keep them in top working condition. The frequency in which oil should be applied depends on how often the shredder is used. Shredders that are used infrequently can be oiled every few months, while those undergoing consistent shredding sessions will need to be oiled more often.
What to do if my paper shredder overheats?
A. A paper shredder can overheat if consistently used for long durations. If your shredder does overheat, it is best to turn it off, unplug it and wait at least half an hour before using again.
What’s the best paper shredder to buy?
Top paper shredder
What you need to know: A high-end paper shredder built to handle a number of different types of documents and materials.
What you’ll love: The cross-cut design can handle up to 18 sheets of paper, making for efficient and quick shredding. This device can also shred credit cards, CDs, staples and other heavy-duty items for 30 minutes at a time. The 9-gallon storage bin can hold large quantities of scraps.
What you should consider: Some people may find this model too bulky and expensive for their needs.
Top paper shredder for the money
What you need to know: An affordable Aurora shredder that’s great for lighter home use.
What you’ll love: Not only can this shredder handle eight pages at once, but you can confidently dispose of credit cards as well. The manual reverse function is ideal for fixing any paper jams, and the compact size is great for home offices.
What you should consider: There have been occasional reports of customers receiving slightly used models.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: A simple, yet reliable shredder that can cut through more than just standard paper.
What you’ll love: Sporting a P4 rating, the micro-cut design produces impressively small scraps for quality security. An LED indicator light will alert you when the bin is full and needs to be emptied or if the machine is overheating.
What you should consider: For optimal shredding, it is best to use slightly fewer pages than the recommended max.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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