Selecting the Right Shredder

So, you need a paper shredder but don’t know where to start? Well look no further. Here at we’ve compiled a great range to choose from. But first you need to decide on the following:

What kind of material will you be shredding?

Typically you will be shredding paper, but you may also require a shredder that can handle staples and paperclips too. Some shredders will also shred credit cards, CDs and DVDs.

What volume of shredding you will be doing?

If you are going to be shredding only occasionally then a small home shredder will probably suit. If you intend to use it on an everyday basis (in an office or home-based business) you may want to consider a higher spec office shredder. If it is for very heavy work usage, then you will need to look at an industrial shredder. The key thing to look at here is the sheet capacity (i.e. what is the maximum number of sheets that the shredder can shred at a time) as well as the recommended usage level (e.g. moderate, commercial etc) or number of sheets per day.

Which shredder security level do you require (1-7)?

When purchasing a paper shredder you will usually see a reference to the shredder’s security level (or DIN), ranging from 1-7 (although not all generalist retailers will sell the highest security models). Essentially this tells you what size pieces your documents will be shredded into. The smaller the pieces, the more secure it is considered to be and the higher the DIN level.

The security levels, based on the shredding of paper are as follows:

- Level P-1 (Basic shredding)

- Level P-2 (Everyday documents)

- Level P-3 (Confidential documents)

- Level P-4 (Highly confidential documents)

- Level P-5 (Secret documents)

- Level P-6 (Highly secret documents)

- Level P-7 (Top secret documents)

If you are looking to shred other material like CDs or bank cards, these now have their own classification levels with recommended particle sizes that you should shred them into. Full details can be found here.

Do you want a strip-cut or cross-cut shredder?

Strip-cut shredders shred material into long, narrow strips. Typically, these shredders will handle more sheets at a time, but they offer less security as they don’t shred as finely as cross-cut models.

Cross-cut shredders shred material into short narrow pieces (hence they are sometimes also referred to as confetti-cut shredders). Due to the fact that they shred into smaller pieces than strip-cut models they are considered to offer a higher security for the shredding of confidential materials.

Do you want any extra features?

Some paper shredders come with a variety of extra features including:

- Electronic auto-start for ease of use

- Safety lock to disable the shredder and prevent accidental activation

- Safety sensor which automatically shuts the shredder off if the unit is touched

- Jam proof systems to prevent paper jams

- Reverse mechanism to help clear jams

- Auto-oil mechanism to help maintain performance

- Quiet operation for use in work environments

- Separate waste bins for different types of shredded material in order to make recycling easier

Hopefully the above will help you to make an informed decision when it comes to buying your home shredder or office shredder.

n.b. This article was updated in October 2012 to reflect the new DIN shredder security levels