Buy a Paper Shredder: Guide to Finding a Good Product
A reliable paper shredder is one of the best investments you can ever make in protecting your personal information and keeping your home or office free of clutter. While you might be tempted to just toss all of that junk mail and those pre-approved credit card offers right in the trash, a much more secure option is to safely destroy your old documents, bills, and financial statements first so your information doesn't end up falling into the wrong hands.
The benefits of a good shredder don't stop there either. Many of the top products on the market will also shred CDs and credit cards as well.
Until I bought my first one a few years ago, I probably had 15 old expired credit and debit cards sitting around the house because I was always afraid to just throw them away. Now it has become second nature to me to run unwanted mail and paperwork through that convenient little slot underneath my desk and never have to think twice about it. If you are in the market to buy a paper shredder or upgrade the one you already own, the following guide should help you find one that best suits your needs.
Things to Consider When Buying a Paper Shredder
Before you start shopping around, take the time to evaluate your needs. Because shredders come in a variety of sizes and prices, it is important to select one that will handle the jobs you need it to do while fitting within your budget. The first thing to keep in mind is that while they may appear similar from the outside, these products are very different and choosing the wrong one can lead to a great deal of frustration.
1. Work Load – This is probably the single most important consideration when deciding what kind of shredder to buy. One way this is measured is called "sheets per pass". This refers to how many sheets of paper the machine can handle at one time without jamming or getting stuck. The lower priced entry-level models will sometimes only be able to handle anywhere from one to four sheets at a time. This is fine if you are certain that you will only be performing light duty shredding and are patient enough to feed them through one or two sheets at a time. If you are going to be using it for mail, consider that often times a single bank statement or credit card bill can be four to five pages in length folded over (10 sheet thickness).
Personally, I recommend going with something that can handle an absolute minimum of ten sheets at a time. Another handy feature when it comes to workload is the ability to handle staples, paperclips, credit cards, and CDs. You will typically have to pay a small premium for the added power but in my opinion, it really ends up being well worth it as you spend much less time pulling staples and worrying about paper jams. As a final tip in this category, look for a product with a reverse switch, this makes it easy to handle over-fed paper loads without having to open the unit.
2. Cut Style – You will see the various models described as either cross-cut, confetti cut, or strip cut. A strip cut paper shredder simply slices the document into many long skinny slices. Cross cut and confetti cut are two different names for the same thing. These models will slice the document both vertically and horizontally creating a smaller shred mix. As a general rule, cross-cut and confetti cut shredders are usually more secure as it becomes nearly impossible to reconstruct a document shredded in this manner. When reviewing products, you can usually find the cut style described somewhere in the name of the product or in the very first line of the description.
3. Size – There are two important things to consider here, the size of the basket and the size of the unit itself. Your selection here will primarily depend on how much space you have to store it but you should also consider how much paper it can hold. The smaller the basket, the more frequently you will have to empty it before it will start to jam. Personally, I like to sacrifice a little bit of storage space in favor of convenience so I don't have to empty it all the time.
First, you must decide if it will be for home or business use. Selecting a good product has a lot to do with how well the workload matches up with what each particular model was designed for. Based on my research and reviews, here are a few models that I suggest for some of the most common shredding situations you will run into.
At Home: For basic use around the house or in a home office, I like the Fellowes Powershred W-11C Cross Cut Shredder. It has a nine-inch wide paper entry slot which enables it to handle a variety of documents. It has an instant safety interlock switch that automatically shuts it down when it is lifted from the basket which is great for households with children and a good solid feature to help protect against accidents.
It easily handles eleven sheets of paper per feed and has a built in steel cutter to make quick and easy work of staples and credit cards. The handy reverse function helps to prevent paper jams and the electronic auto-start allows you to shred on demand. Finally, the price at around $69 makes this an affordable and dependable choice to handle home shredding duties.
I purchased this unit myself and have been very happy with it so far. Tip: It is a good idea to pick up a bottle of Fellowes lubricating oil along with it as this will extend the life of the blades and keep it performing at a high level. If you want something a little more heavy-duty, the Fellowes 32177 Powershred PS-77Cs Shredder is an excellent choice.
This one will combine the features above with the ability to shred CDs, paperclips, and 12 sheets per pass. It comes with a 7 gallon basket to allow for a bit of shredding between trips to empty the basket. One of my favorite features of this unit is the clear plastic window that allows you to quickly see how much space is left in the basket.
For Business: For small to medium sized offices, the Fellowes Powershred 100% Jam Proof C-225Ci Cross Cut Paper Shredder is an excellent choice. Just like the name says, this jam proof system is designed to be able to power through even the toughest shredding jobs without getting stuck. The ultra quiet operation makes it ideal for an office environment where it can be used without disrupting phone calls or other workers nearby.
It has a 20 sheet per pass capacity that makes short work of old files or boxes of paperwork that need to be securely disposed of. The built in energy saving feature saves up to 70% in operating costs compared to similar shredders making it quite friendly in terms of operating costs over the long term. The massive 16 gallon bin is ideal for holding a high volume of shredded documents.
Need to handle a mountain of paperwork? For gigantic paper shredding jobs, you may want to turn to the Fellowes Powershred C-420. It will handle up to 38 sheets per pass at a rate of 20 feet per minute! The huge 16 inch paper entry slot can handle even the largest of office documents in the blink of an eye.
This unit comes with a huge 32 gallon wastebasket designed to handle offices with ten or more unique daily users. This product comes with a 20 year warranty from the manufacturer on the cutter and a two year warranty on the machine itself. If you have a decent sized office and don't want to spend $5,000 or more on a commercial or industrial shredder, this heavy duty model will handle a big workload for the price making it an excellent value for budget conscious businesses.