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Features to Look for While Buying a Paper Shredder

Apart from shredding paper, a paper shredder also secures confidential information and data by preventing it from being exploited by crooks. That being said, a good shredder must possess optimal speed, large paper capacity, bin size, and good security rating, among other features.
What to look for in a paper shredder
Did You Know?
The waste-paper receptacle patented by Abbot Augustus Low in the U.S. on August 31, 1909, is widely considered as the first paper shredder.
Before buying just about any paper shredder, give due thought to the type of shredding you require, and the extent to which you wish to secure your sensitive documents from theft and imitation. Strip-cut, confetti-cut, and micro-cut are the three main types of shredders, each lending varying levels of protection against breach of confidential information. The other types of shredders, such as high-security and industrial shredders, lend greater security, have more sheet capacity, shred speed, and bin size. This Buzzle guide discusses what to look for when buying a paper shredder.

The Three Basic Types of Paper Shredders

Strip-cut Shredders cut the document into 34 readable strips with a width of 1/4-1-inch, and are thus, suitable for shredding paper that contains information not worth protecting, because these strips can easily be assembled to recreate the original piece of paper. Secondly, there are computer programs that have made it possible to reassemble random shredded paper, in order to replicate the original document.

Confetti-cut Shredders, on the other hand, as the name suggests, provide comparatively greater protection against theft, by tearing the paper into 300-800+ confetti-sized bits. However, these tiny pieces of paper can also be assembled through appropriate software, if someone really wanted to get hold of the information.

Micro-cut shredder is ideal for workplaces and private citizens who wish to safeguard their information with the highest level of security. These shredders shred the paper into 3000-12,000+ granulated and indistinguishable particles, which is very hard for even computer programs to decipher.

Features to Consider

Personal or Commercial Use

Depending on your requirement, you will need to decide the size of the shredder machine. For example, for personal use, you could consider going in for a small shredder with a low sheet capacity so that it occupies less space and gets the job done. However, the type of shred to go in for, will depend a lot on the sensitivity of the information that needs to be destroyed. Therefore, for greater security, go in for a more powerful, yet small, shredder for home and small office use.

Security Rating

Remember to choose one that has been appropriately approved by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Defense (DOD). Whereas, highly confidential and top secret documents need to be shred according to Central Security Service (CSS) guidelines. The highest level of security rating that is given to a paper shredder machine is 6. The ratings of 1 and 2 are usually meant for strip-cut and certain cross-cut shredders. While ratings 3 and 4 are assigned for cross-cut shredders, rating 5 is given to micro-cut shredders, and a rating of 6 is given to super micro-cut shredders. Therefore, based on your needs, choose a shredder with the appropriate security rating. Secondly, remember that a machine with a higher security rating is likely to have better features and be more expensive.

Feed Rate

Smaller machines usually come with a low security rating and have a lowered shred capacity that ranges between 6-36 sheets and sheet speed of 6-25 fpm (feet per minute). The machines with greater sheet capacity, speed, and bin size, can also be used by small offices. On the other hand, for medium- to large-scale commercial use, you will require a bigger machine with a greater security rating. Go in for a shredder with a sheet capacity ranging between 12-24, and a shred speed ranging between 16-33 fpm. Therefore, choose a machine with a feed rate/capacity that matches the quantity of paper that is expected to be shred on a daily basis.

Bin Capacity

The shredder chosen by you must have sufficient bin capacity to hold the chad. Secondly, consider going in for a shredder that is equipped with a full-capacity indicator that goes off every time the bin has reached its maximum capacity. The bin size could range anywhere between 9-39 gallons, depending on the sheet capacity and size of the shredder.

Thermal Protected and Sleep Mode

Those who need to shred large quantities, and on a regular basis, could consider buying a shredder that is equipped with a thermally protected duty motor that prevents the machine from overheating. On the other hand, the sleep mode ensures that the machine saves power, when it is still connected but not being used.

Safety and Throat Features

Make sure that the shredder you choose has a protective flap over the throat and blades, and is equipped with safety sensors. These sensors ensure that the blades stop moving the moment the user's hands get too close to the throat. This safety sensor works for pets as well, and ensures that nobody gets their hair, fingers, or fabric stuck in between the blades while attempting to shred paper. If needed, you can also opt for a machine that has a safety lock, which can only be opened by an authorized user, and not pried open by children or manhandled by strangers. Additionally, ensure that the width of the throat is at least 8.5-12", so as to accommodate A4-sized papers with ease.

What Else Can it Shred?

It would also serve you well to opt for a shredder that goes beyond the usual and shreds more than mere paper. You could go in for a machine that is capable of shredding credit cards, CDs, memory cards, and paper clips. Make sure that the machine specifies that it is built to handle and shred such hard materials. The idea behind a multipurpose shredder is to bestow the user with the power to destroy confidential information of various types, in a safe and effective manner. Unless specified, never feed paper that has paper clips and pins on it into the shredder, as these foreign materials can damage the internal components of the machine.

Additional Features

The newer shredder machines are a lot more quiet and fast, so ensure that you go in for one such model. Secondly, ask for the machine's warranty, and ensure that the dealer agrees to replace the entire unit or rectifies the error. To avoid breakdown, follow the manufacturer's instruction manual.

Best Paper Shredders on the Market

  • Fellowes Powershred 99Ci
  • GoEcoLife GMC205Pi
  • Staples SPL-TXC122A
  • Ativa MD Pro 1200
  • Black & Decker BD10P
  • Royal CX80
  • Init 10-sheet Microcut DVD/CD Shredder
Remember to compare prices and read reviews of various reputable paper shredder brands and models before to decide upon one. A bit of research will go a long way in helping you choose the right machine that is guaranteed to last several years to come.
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Published: January 16, 2014
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