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Home > Paper Shredder Guide

Paper Shredder, Document Destruction Guide

Why use a paper shredder?

Paper shredders are a first line defense against fraud and corporate espionage. Identity thieves and corporate spies glean information taken from documents and forms that are disposed of in the trash. Once papers are placed in the garbage they become public domain. Privacy is forfeit and it is legal for anyone to remove items from the trash. They use the information gathered from the disposed documents to create assumed identities or to sell corporate information to competitors. These criminals are seldom caught and even if they are, the damage has already been done.

The best solution to combat identity fraud and corporate espionage is to shred documents that contain sensitive information immediately as their retention periods expire.
Documents requiring shredding include:
  • Client Bank & Financial Statements
  • Documents containing PINs, birth dates, social security numbers, etc
And unnecessary copies of:
  • Trade Secrets
  • Pricing Strategies
  • Formulas
  • Engineering Schematics
  • Intellectual Property
  • Customer Lists

Please feel free to look at our fraud prevention guide.

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Things to consider before purchasing a paper shredder.

What will you be shredding?
Shredders vary in their cutting styles. Some cut documents into long thin strips, while other cut documents into tiny confetti-like bits. To determine that type of shredder that suits your needs, consider the following:
  • How sensitive is the material?
  • What stock is the paper?
  • How often will the shredder be used?
  • How many people will use the shredder?
  • How many sheets will be shred at a time?
  • What size of paper will be shred?
  • Is limited space an issue?
How sensitive is the material?
If you're shredding documents with private or confidential information, it's advised that you use a shredder that slices the pages into tiny unrecognizable bits that can't be easily pieced back together.

For documents containing less important information, a shredder that slices the pages into long thin strips will suffice.

What stock of paper will be shred?
Paper stock comes in many different types and thicknesses, including thin, card, glossy or coarse. Some shredders are unable to handle thick card stock. Be sure to choose a shredder that can handle all types of paper.

How often will the shredder be used?
Some paper shredders are designed for light, occasional use. Others are built to operate continuously. Be sure to choose a shredder that can handle the workload of your office.

How many people will use the shredder?
If you have a small or midsize office then it may be practical to have one large shredder for everyone to use. For large offices is may be more convenient to have several mid-sized shredders located in different areas or departments. You may even consider a mobile shredder to move around departments. Small desk-side shredders are also advisable for private office use.

How many sheets will be shred at a time?
Some shredders can only shred single sheets and others are high capacity shredders that can shred multiple sheets at a time. Strip cut shredders make fewer cuts so they can shred more paper at a time than a cross cut shredder.

What size of paper will be shred?
There are a variety of shredders that can handle light loads or oversized loads. Low volume shredders can shred letters and single sheets of plain writing paper. Heavy volume shredders can shred CDs, cardboard, newspapers and phonebooks. Remember to consider whether you'll be needing a low or heavy volume shredder.

Is limited space an issue?
Shredders come in several shapes and sizes. Some shredders are large and bulky while others are small enough to fit under desks. If your company needs a large industrial size shredder, fit mobile casters under the shredder to make it easier to move to different locations. You may also consider a thinner shredder that can be place in tight spaces.

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What are the different types of shredders?

Strip-Cut Shredders
Strip-Cut Shredders Strip-cut style shredders slice paper into long thin strips. These strips can vary in size from 1/2-inch wide to 1/16-inch wide. Strip-cut style shredders generally have a higher shred capacity. However, they have a lower security rating since information on the strips are more recognizable and could be pieced back together.

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Cross-Cut Shredders
Cross-Cut Shredders Cross-cut shredders make crisscross cuts creating confetti-sized pieces of paper. These crisscross cut pieces of paper vary in size from 3/8-inch x 3-1/8-inch to 1/32-inch x 1/2-inch. Although not as fast as a strip-cut, cross-cut shredders have a higher security rating because the shredded bits are indistinguishable. The shredded material is more condensed and takes up less space in the shred bin. Because of this it isn't necessary to empty the bin as often.

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Desk-Side Shredders
Desk-Side Shredders Desk-Side Shredders are small, portable shredders that are used for personal use in homes and private offices. They are available in both strip and cross-cuts. They are compact enough to fit next to or under office desks. Desk-side shredders are intended for light use, but can shred between 3 - 8 sheets at a time. Common manufacturers include Fellowes shredders, GBC and Destroyit Shredders.

Desk-Side Shredders | Shredder Bags | Back to Top

General Office Shredders
General Office Shredders General office shredders are the most common type used in office. They are medium sized shredders with a higher capapcity than desk-side models. General office shredders can generally shred 30 standard sheets of paper at a time, depending on the model. To optimize limited office space these shredders can be placed in corners or next to photocopy machines. Common manufacturers include Fellowes shredders, GBC and Destroyit Shredders.

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Departmental/Heavy Duty Shredders
Departmental/Heavy Duty Shredders Departmental & heavy-duty shredders are built for continual and high volume office shredding. They are available in cross-cut or strip-cut styles, but cross-cut is recommended. Some models are able to shred up to 60 sheets at a time. Heavy-duty shredders are common in banks, law firms and government offices. Common manufacturers include Fellowes shredders, GBC and Destroyit Shredders.

Departmental/Heavy Duty Shredders | Shredder Bags | Back to Top

Industrial Shredders
Industrial Shredders Industrial shredders are larger, sturdier and intended for continual high-volume shredding. Some models are able to shred up to 450 sheets at a time. Large corporations that shred in-house, and outsource shred service companies use these industrial shredders. Certain shredder models will compact and bail the paper shreds like hay. This conserves space and makes disposal easier.

Industrial Shredders | Shredder Bags | Back to Top

Cardboard Shredders
Cardboard Shredders Cardboard shredders are used in warehouses and stock rooms to shred unused cardboard boxes. Using a cardboard shredder to dispose of boxes saves money on disposal, and the shreds can be used as packing material for shipping fragile merchandise.

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What are the different kinds of shredding/security?

The security level of a shredder is determined by the size of the shredded pieces, and how identifiable they are. Documents vary one what level they shredder they should be disposed. Security is measured on a scale from 1 to 6, 1 being the lowest and 6 the highest.

DIN 32757 Shred Particle Security Levels
(Security Level 6 is NSA/DOD certified, not DIN 32757 certified.)

Security Level 1
This level shreds documents into strips. Use these shredders for destroying general records, internal documents and correspondence that doesn't contain confidential information after the retention period expires.

  • Approximately 3/8 x 1 -3 1/8 Cross Cut
  • Approximately 3/8 Strip Cut
  • (10.5mm Strip Cut)
  • (11.8mm Strip Cut)
  • (10.5mm x 40-80mm Cross Cut)

Security Level 2
Security Level 2 is designated for shredding of internal documents that contains private but not necessarily confidential information. It's adequate for shredding documents, computer printouts or poor quality photocopies.

  • Approximately 1/8 Strip Cut
  • Approximately Strip Cut
  • Approximately x 9/16-2 Cross Cut
  • Approximately x 9/16-2 Cross Cut
  • (3.9mm Strip Cut)
  • (5.8mm Strip Cut)
  • (7.5mm x 40-80mm)

Security Level 3
Security level three shredders cut documents into thin, or short strips. These are good midlevel shredders for destroying confidential documents, forms and applications containing personal data.

  • Approximately 1/16 Strip Cut
  • Approximately 1/8 x 1 1/8-2 Cross Cut
  • (1.9mm Strip Cut)
  • (3.9mm x 30-50mm Cross Cut)

Security Level 4
Security level 4 shredders are generally cross-cut style shredders that shred papers into thin, sort strips. This is the lowest level for safely shredding documents, print outs, correspondents, applications, etc, that contain confidential or secret information.

  • Approximately 1/6 x 9/16-5/8 Cross Cut
  • (1.9mm x 15mm Cross Cut)

Security Level 5
Security level 5 shredders are approved by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Canadian R.C.M.P. for shredding classified documents. Documents and papers are reduced to tiny, extremely thin strips.

  • Approximately 1/32 x 3/8-1/2 Cross Cut
  • (0.78mm x 11mm Cross Cut)

Cross Cut 1mm x 5mm (approximately 1/26" x 1/5") Security Level 6
Security level 6 shredders turn documents into fine bits of confetti. Level 6 shredders are the highest level available, and are the only shredders that are NSA approved. Use level 6 shredders to destroy documents containing the most sensitive information.

  • Approximately 1/32 x 5/32 Cross Cut
  • Approximately 1/26 x 1/5 Cross Cut
  • (1mm x 4-5mm)

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Automatic Stop/Start - Some shredders have an automatic stop/start. The automatic stop/start is a sensor, built into the shredder, that starts automatically when paper is fed and stops when done.

Bag full indicator - Some shredders have a bag full indicator that lets you know the shredder is full and needs its bag to be changed.

Bin - The bin is where the shredded paper goes.

Casters - Larger paper shredders are placed into a metal frame called a caster. The caster will either have legs or wheels. This makes moving larger shredders easier.

Cross-Cut - Cross cut shredders use a crisscross format to cut paper into small pieces.

Duty Cycle - A duty cycle is the amount of time a shredder can be used before it must be turned off and cooled down.

Footprint - The footprint is the area of ground the shredder takes up.

Hopper - Some shredders have a hopper. A hopper is a type of bin where paper can be dumped for shredding.

Horizontal feed - Some shredders can have paper fed from the side. This is known has horizontal feed.

Overload protection - Some shredders have overload protection. If too many sheets of paper are loaded into a shredder, the overload protection will turn the shredder off before the motor is burned out.

Reverse function - Some shredders have a reverse function. A reverse function is the ability of a paper shredder to back the paper out rather move the paper forward into the shredder.

Sheet capacity - The sheet capacity is the amount of paper a shredder can shredder at one time.

Shredder Speed - The shredder speed that a paper shredder can shred. This is usually rated in feet of paper per second.

Strip-Cut - Strip-cut is a type of shredding. Shredders that shred strip-cut shred the paper into long strips of paper.

Throat - The throat of a paper shredder is where the paper is placed before shredding. Different paper shredders have different throat widths.

Vertical feed - Some shredders have paper fed through the top of the machine. This is a vertical feed.

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