If you are looking to buy a shredder for your office or home business there are a number of things that you might want to consider:
1) Will you need to shred anything other than paper?
The bulk of your shredding will most likely be paper – but you may also have a requirement to shred CDs for example. A number of shredder models can handle the shredding of CDs and DVDs, in addition to paperclips and staples. This can be really handy if you have sensitive discs to dispose of – and the ability to shred paperclips and staples is a great time saver.
2) How much shredding will you be doing?
An office is likely to have quite a volume of sensitive information to shred. Therefore you need a shredder that can cope with your requirements. Shredders often have a sheet capacity reference or recommended daily usage level. This can help you to establish whether a shredder is suitable for your particular needs. It’s a good idea to pay particular attention to this as if you buy a lower spec model that can’t handle the volume you want it can prove very frustrating!
3) How sensitive is the information you will be shredding?
If you have highly sensitive information to shred then you will want to shred it as finely as possible. DIN level refers to how small the particles are that material is shredded into. The higher the DIN level the more secure it is considered to be. DIN levels range from 1-7 (although only very specialised retailers will sell DIN level 7 shredders):
DIN levels, based on the shredding of paper (and given the relevant 'P' reference) 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)
The new DIN standard called DIN 66399 also has guidelines for the shredding of other material such as CDs, microfilms and flash drives. More information can be found here.
4) Do you want a cross-cut or strip-cut shredder?
Shredders come in cross-cut and strip-cut models. Cross-cut shredders are considered more secure as they shred into short narrow pieces (hence they are also sometimes referred to as confetti-cut shredder). Strip-cut shredders on the other hand shred into long, narrow strips although they will often handle more sheets at a time.
5) What bin capacity do you need?
If you are intending to shred large volumes of material you also want to make sure that the shredder you buy has a large bin capacity. This should be referenced by the number of sheets the bin can hold or number of litres it can hold.
6) Do you want a silent shredder?
Of course all shredders will make some noise! But there are a number of models available now that operate a lot quieter – great when you are trying to hold meetings or are on the phone etc.
7) How portable do you want the shredder to be?
It’s probably not something that you would normally consider but if you are buying a sizeable shredder and also want to be able to move it around easily then you will probably want to opt for one with castors.
8) How do you intend to recycle your waste?
Some shredders have separate waste bins for different material, making recycling a lot easier. Check the shredder spec to see if this is an included feature.
For a range of office shredders that can be filtered by price, brand, security level and cutter type take a look at our office shredder section here.
n.b. This article was updated in October 2012 to reflect the new DIN shredder security levels