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Shredder Buying Guide

Choosing the right shredder can mean the difference between properly disposing of sensitive documents versus constantly unjamming a device that isn’t up to the job at hand. The average person shreds 20-30% more than they anticipate. Use this guide to learn safety features, jam prevention, and capacity considerations when buying a document shredder.
  • Types of shredders

    When selecting a shredder, it is important to know how many people will be using the machine and how often it will be used.

     CommercialSmall / Home OfficeHousehold
    Number of usersMultiple users:
    More than 3 users per hour
    1 – 3 users per hour1 user
    Run time before shredder needs to cool1 hour½ hour 10 minutes
    Usage: How often will the shredder be used200 sheets100 sheets30 sheets
     Shop Commercial ShreddersShop Small / Home Office ShreddersShop Household Shredders

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  • Security level and cut-type

    If you’re shredding documents, there’s a high probability you think they are sensitive enough to take this extra measure of security to make sure no one can pull them out of your trash can and steal your identity. Depending on what you’re destroying and what is at risk, take the time to consider the type of cut that your shredder will perform.

     Security LevelUsageSize of the cut Pieces per sheet 
    Strip-cutBasicLevel: P-2
    Documents with little or no need for confidentiality
    7/32" x length of the paper39 strips / sheetShop Strip-Cut Shredders
    Cross-cutHigherLevel P-3 and P-4
    Documents with high level of confidentiality
    5/32" x 1-1/2"
    5/32" x 2"
    397 particles per sheet
    302 particles per sheet
    Shop Cross-Cut Shredders
    Micro-cutUltimateLevel P-5
    Superior security for highly confidential documents
    5/64" x 5/16"3,700 particles per sheetShop Micro-Cut Shredders
    High-securityGovernment approvedLevel P-7
    Superior security for top-secret documents and classified documents
    1/32" x 3/16"15,081 particles per sheetShop High Security Shredders

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  • Capabilities beyond the paper

    Junk mail

    Shredders are meant to cut and slice documents, but often junk mail contains thick or glossy pages which may not easily get pulled through the feeder. Also, junk mail can contain an undetermined number of pages. Check the capacity of the shredder to be sure you're not overfeeding and overworking it.

    Shop High-Capacity Shredders >


    Removing staples from every set of documents you shred can be extremely time-consuming. Make sure your shredder is tough enough to chew through staples as well as several sheets at a time.

    Paper clips

    Though not as time consuming as staples, paper clips often find their way in between sheets. Take care to remove paper clips from all sensitive documents to be shred or go worry-free and purchase a shredder that can handle the occasional clip.

    Shop Powerful Shredders >

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  • Key features

    These are key features that make the job to be done easier, safer and more affordable.

    Jam prevention

    Look for shredders that feature jam-proof or high jam-prevention technology. Often this technology is paired with key jam-reduction functions like auto-reverse, a throat capacity indicator and a more powerful shredding motor. Always check the item description for jam-prevention features that will make your job a little easier.


    Shredder safety comes in many forms, from lock-out features that disable the gears when not in use to touch-sensitive bars that pause the unit's operation if a hand gets to close. Most shredders come with a way to reverse the motor, but read the description carefully to ensure you're getting the necessary safety features for the people who will be using it.

    Energy Savings

    If shredding is part of your everyday routine and energy costs are a concern or if you’re just trying to save money, look for units that feature the Energy Star label. No matter how often you use it, energy savings will definitely add up throughout the year.

    Holding capacity

    Depending on the size of your office and the size of each shredding session, consider whether you’ll need a slim design with a 2-gallon waste bin or a larger unit that holds 5 or more gallons.


    Often overlooked, don’t forget to check the noise level of your intended shredder. After 15-20 minutes of shredding, the whirring and grinding can be hard on others in the office, especially when phone conversations are the norm. If noise reduction is a factor, look for shredders that feature a noise level of 75 dB or less.

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