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Paper Shredder Buying Guide

Paper Shredder Buying Guide

Identity theft and fraud is not only a threat to individuals, but also for corporations, government agencies, and small businesses. With identity theft and fraud so rampant these days, people have to think twice about what they can throw away in their trash. Thieves will go through personal and corporate trash alike in order to obtain any piece of information that they think may pay off big. Today, a wide variety of paper shredders are available in the market depending on your need: commercial, personal, residential, and industrial.  Follow these tips in helping you select the shredder that is fit for you.

Security Levels

Paper shredders offer 6 levels of security that determine how the shredder destroys material.  The higher the level of security, the more difficult the shredder will make it for potential frauders and identity thieves to piece together documents and other confidential information from the shreds.  Based on its security level, shredders will destroy documents to these cut or strip sizes:

Security Level 1
  Security Level 2
  Security Level 3

Strip Cut   Strip Cut   Cross cut 
3/8'' x 1 1/2'' and 3/8'' x 3 1/8''   1/8'' x 1/8"   1/8'' x 2'' or 5/32" x 1 13/16"
Security Level 4   Security Level 5   Security Level 6  
Cross Cut    Cross Cut    Cross Cut   
3 1/8" x 1 1/8   1/16" x 5/8" or 1/32'' x 7/16"   1mm x 4mm or .8mm x 4.5mm  


Strip Cut vs Cross Cut vs Micro-cut

Strip Cut
     Cross Cut
     Micro Cut


Strip Cut – A low security shred.  Shredder will generally destroy documents into long strips.

Cross Cut – Provides higher security than a strip cut.  Shredder will destroy document into small, rectangular pieces, similar to confetti.

Micro-cut – Provides the highest level of security.  Shredder will destroy documents into extremely tiny, millimeter sized pieces.

Sheet Capacity

Depending on the grade of the machine, a paper shredder can shred anywhere between a couple of sheets a day to thousands.  Low volume, personal paper shredders may be able to shred to a single sheet at a time.  A medium volume paper shredder may be able to shred 2 – 10 sheets at a time.  A shredder than can shred over 15 sheets at a time is ideal for high volume shredding.

CD, DVD, Credit Card, and ID Shredding

Some paper shredders have the option of shredding sturdier materials, such as CDs, DVDs, Credit Cards, and IDs.  Be sure to check that the paper shredding you are purchasing is able to shred non-paper media.

Throat Size

Throat size is the maximum document width a paper shredder can fit in the entry feed.  Standard sizes come in 9” throat sizes but 12” throat sizes are available.

Bin Size

Bin size determines how much shredded material a shredder can hold in its receptacle bin before it needs to be emptied.  The larger the bin size, the more interrupted shredding you can do before you have to empty the bin. 

Auto Feed Shredding

Some shredders in the market have auto-feed shredding features that allow a user to shred large stacks of documents at a time.  Auto feed shredding usually requires a person to place a stack of papers in a designated tray and the shredder will automatically shred the entire stack according to its shred rate. Therefore, rather than standing over the shredder and manually feeding sheets, the user can place a stack and walk away to accomplish other tasks.

Sensors and Indicators

Some shredders will have indicators and sensors on the control board that will communicate errors, jams, full bins, and other malfunctions.  Having sensors and indicators is a huge benefit in being able to troubleshoot, property utilize and maintain your shredder to its highest capability.

To see a Royal Sovereign paper shredder in action, click here

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