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Shredders Buying Guide

In this modern world of identity theft and document related fraud, it is imperative to invest in a high quality shredder. Whether for your home, home office, or large business, you can cut down on vulnerability by ensuring that any private or informational documents are completely destroyed before they are discarded. Clearly, the best way of doing this is with a shredder, but not all shredders are alike. This buying guide is going to review the different details you should know in order to make an informed decision.


Cutting Capabilities

One of the first things to ask yourself is what level of destruction is necessary to ensure your security. This is usually defined in two ways - the security level of the shredding and the type of cutting used.


Cutting types

The cutting is done in only three ways:

  • Strip - not very secure, this just shreds pages into long strips;
  • Cross Cut - similar to confetti, this is a good method of ensuring safety;
  • Micro Cut - the ultimate in protection, this shreds everything into pieces almost too small to measure.

Security levels

In addition to the type of cutting, there are security levels that are described numerically, and by the size of the output:

  • Highest Security - Type 6 - Uses cross or micro cutting down to 1mm or less;
  • Type 5 - Uses cross-cutting down to 1/32" 
  • Type 4 - Uses cross-cutting down to 1/8"
  • Type 3 - Uses cross-cutting down to 5/32"
  • Type 2 - Uses strip cutting to 1/8"
  • Lowest Security -Type 1 - Uses strip cutting to 3/8"

Capacity

Of course, even a shredder that is the ultimate in security may not meet your needs if it is incapable of accepting the number of sheets, the paper sizes, or the materials you need to destroy. This means you have to determine the sheet capacity of the shredder. The most common number that can be fed into the input at one time is two to ten, but there are some lower quality machines that can handle only a single sheet at a time.


There are also options capable of accepting fifteen or more sheets as well. If speed is an issue, be sure you invest in a shredder that has higher capacity.


There is also the issue of throat size, which is the width of the opening. The usual sizes begin around 9" to accommodate all letter-sized documents, but there are also large capacity throats that can handle sheets up to 12" in width.


The capacity also has to take into consideration the types of materials that can be handled too. For instance, some shredders can deal with DVDs, CDs, ID badges, and credit cards. Some can also accept documents that still have staples. Few models can deal with paper clips.


One of the handiest capabilities is auto feed. This is when a high capacity machine is equipped with a bin that automatically feeds the materials into the shredder for processing.


Bin Sizes

Another factor to consider is the amount of material that can be contained in the output bin before it has to be emptied. If you need high volume processing, it is not wise to invest in a small capacity bin. Many shredders are equipped with sensors that alert you to a full bin or which will no longer auto engage if the bin is full.


Extra Features

In addition to everything described above, there are also shredders that have sensors that alert the user to jams, that will auto eject materials that are too challenging to process, and that will engage the reverse functions when problems arise. The best machines also have plenty of guards and security functions to prevent any possible injury too.


Pricing

Because there are so many features and functions in shredders, there are many possible prices too. Obviously, the higher security and wider capacity machines will have the biggest price tags, but some home sized models will also be costly because they are equipped with professional-level gear too.


There are really only a few reputable or popular names where shredders are concerned, and they include Fellowes available, some at the highest security and some exclusively for home use. Choosing the best one, however, Rexel, Home and Office, and GBC. Each of them makes a range of model, begins with assessing your needs and your goals and then choosing accordingly.