Shredder Buying Guide

Shredders are used in home offices, small businesses, and massive corporations. Different types of shredders, varying in size and capability, meet these diverse needs. The market offers many brands and models of high-quality shredders. In this guide, we explain the various features of shredders to help you choose the right shredder to fit your purposes.

 How will you use your shredder?

A shredder can serve many purposes in the home, office, or business. Before choosing the right shredder for your needs, identify how you’ll use your new shredder.

Home paper shredding

Good for those needing a shredder for their home business or home office. Best suited to occasional shredding needs. Ideal for keeping your home office clean and tidy. Shop home paper shredders.

Small office shredding

Often used for moderate shredding needs in a small office. Includes more robust machines with added features. Shop small office shredders.

Commercial shredding

Often used by businesses and companies looking to shred large amounts of paperwork and credit cards. Good for destroying large amounts of information quickly. They can run continuously and shred more than just paper. Shop commercial shredders.

Industrial shredding

Most industrial shredders and heavy-duty paper shredders are packed with convenience features, like LED keypads, automatic sensing, safety shutoff, cardboard shredder capability and more. Government-approved industrial paper shredders meet NSA/CSS Specification 02-01 and are designed to destroy highly sensitive documents in such a way that reconstruction is generally impossible. Shop industrial shredders.

 What level of protection is needed?

There are three main categories of paper shredders, which are differentiated in terms of security level according to how they cut paper.

Micro-cut shredders

Micro-cut shredders may also be referred to as particle-cut or security-cut shredders. These shredders cut paper from both corners diagonally, creating extremely small square-shaped particles virtually impossible to read. One A4-sheet micro-cut paper will create about 3,700 particles.

Cross-cut shredders

Cross-cut shredders may also be referred to as confetti- or diamond-cut shredders. Cross-cut shredders cut the paper diagonally from two corners, creating tiny particles that can barely be read. One A4-sheet cross-cut paper will yield about 400 particles. This type of shredder offers a medium level of security.

Strip-cut shredders

Strip-cut shredders may also be called spaghetti-, ribbon-, or straight-cut shredders. Strip-cut shredders cuts paper into long, narrow, vertical strips (like spaghetti noodles). You can expect to get about 39 strips of paper from one shredded document.

What are the basic shredder specifications?

Sheet Capacity

The sheet capacity of a shredder indicates how many sheets of paper can be  shredded per pass. The larger the sheet  capacity, the more pages you can shred.

Wastebasket Capacity

Most shredders come with a wastebasket — for example, in the form of a pull-out bin or removable bin.

  • Home office  = 1-10 Gallon
  • Small office =  10-30 Gallon
  • Large office =   30+ Gallon

Run time

A shredder’s run time is also referred to as the “duty cycle.” It indicates how many minutes the shredder can run before it needs to take a break to cool down the motor (or, else, it will overheat). 

Continuous run time is also a factor to consider when determining a shredder’s overall capacity. The shorter the run time, the longer it will take for a shredder to dispose of a given set of documents.


  • Smaller shredders intended for home use can usually only shred for one to five minutes maximum.
  • Midsize office shredders are designed to operate for five to 10 minutes before requiring a break.
  • Large commercial-friendly shredders can run 30 minutes at a time or more before they need to take a break. 

What key features should be considered?

In addition to the basic characteristics described above, some shredders have additional features that make the shredding process more convenient. Here are some assets to consider when choosing a shredder:

Jam prevention

Eliminate the #1 frustration among  shredder users, paper jams! Detects paper  thickness and won’t allow a jam to occur.  For superior performance and productivity  select a jam proof shredder.

Full wastebasket indicator

This light signal lets you know when the shredder’s wastebasket is full and needs to be emptied, avoiding overflow.

Manual reverse

Paper jams will clog the blades and cause the shredder machine to shut down completely. You can usually remove the jam by manually reversing the shredder. More advanced shredders give you the option to reverse the motor automatically.


Overload protection for jamming avoidance

This feature is meant to prevent paper jams. The sensor alerts you when you’re trying to shred too much paper at once, and the shredder will refuse to operate, making it jam-proof.


Automatic document feeder

Feeding a shredder by hand can be tedious and time-consuming, taking you away from other essential tasks during your workday. An auto-feed shredder takes the burden off your shoulders.


Safety lockout

Shredders contain sharp blades, which can be dangerous. Don’t leave kids or pets unattended around a shredder, and always unplug it when it’s not in use. Some shredders have a safety lock for added safety that stops the blades when the shredder is plugged in. Some models also have safety sensors that can detect if hands or fingers are near the paper-feed tray. The shredder will then shut off immediately.

Quiet operation

The average paper shredder produces around 65 decibels of noise, similar to the volume produced by a washing machine. Noisy shredders can be annoying in crowded office environments. Quiet shredders minimize this disturbance.

Energy-saving technology

It’s advisable to turn off your paper shredder when you aren’t using it, both for safety and to cut energy costs. However, if you frequently shred throughout the day, turning the shredder on and off every time you use it can be a nuisance. Energy-saving technology puts the device into energy-saving “standby” or “sleep” mode when not in use.

 What items can you use in a paper shredder?

Paper shredders are an integral business security solution.

Bills and financial statements

Bills, financial documents, and bank statements contain bank account or credit card details, which can be used for potential theft. Some accounting paperwork may also have details like social security numbers or tax identification numbers.


Receipts likewise often contain sensitive financial data. Should individuals know what you’re purchasing (e.g., medication receipts)? If you run a small business, receipts may also contain sensitive customer data. Consider safeguarding your clients’ privacy.

Credit cards

Credit card theft can damage your credit score and have long-term negative impacts. A credit card shredder can help keep your credit card information from prying eyes.

Junk mail

Even junk mail can be shredded. Why? Your name and address can be enough for someone to steal your identity. Identity theft is a serious issue.

Confidential Documents

Professional files, medical records, personal letters — these are just a few examples of confidential documents you may consider keeping private.

 Popular brands include: