Best Paper Shredders

Updated June 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

64 Models Considered
6 Models Tested
109 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
204 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best paper shredders

Last Updated June 2019

More and more, privacy is becoming the primary concern of many individuals. Any document, even junk mail, can contain enough information to allow some unscrupulous opportunist an opening to inconvenience or damage your life. Paper shredders are essential appliances that have become staples in most homes.

When considering a paper shredder, you want one that offers a cross-cut or micro-cut for the best protection. If you need to shred credit cards or CDs, you will need to be sure the model you pick has that ability. A shredder that is easy to use, has overload protection, and can shred a number of pages at once at an acceptable speed is what we recommend.

For a larger list of desirable features, continue reading. If you're ready to start protecting your family and your business right now, consider one of the models that we've evaluated and determined to be the best on the market.

A shredder is a great way to dispose of unwanted paper, especially if they are sensitive or private documents.

Types of paper shredders

Strip cut

Strip cut shredders slice paper into long, straight shreds. While this does offer some degree of security, it's not too hard for someone to reassemble shredded documents, recovering the data.

More thorough types of paper shredder have made this variety all but obsolete.

Power

The Royal 1840MX's horsepower impressed us. One sheet of paper will be completely shredded in under five seconds. At a rate of 18 sheets per pass, an entire ream of bond paper could be destroyed in less than five minutes. And while many shredders have dedicated slots for electronic media (like CDs and credit cards), some just slice those materials into ribbons. Not so with the Royal. Everything it sinks its teeth into is pulverized by its cross-cut shredder blades.

Cross-cut or diamond cut

Cross-cut or diamond cut shredders cut paper crossways, as well as lengthwise.

This results in much smaller chunks that would be too tricky to reassemble for all but the most determined of criminals.

DID YOU KNOW?

Because cross-cut shredders create strips longer than they are wide, they're more effective at shredding documents in portrait orientation. Anything printed landscape can end up with long enough strings of data to glean important information.

Micro-cut

If you want the gold standard of paper shredder, opt for a micro-cut shredder.

This masticates paper into tiny, confetti-like chips, making it virtually impossible to reassemble a document in any meaningful way.

EXPERT TIP

Anyone disposing of extremely sensitive information should go with a micro-cut shredder; the chance of someone gaining information from an individual paper shred — or being able to reassemble a full page — is basically zero.


Staff  | BestReviews

Considerations for selecting a paper shredder

What will you shred?

Basic paper shredders deal with paper alone, but many mid-range and high-end home shredders can also tackle items such as credit cards and CDs.

Some of these use special attachments for dealing with plastics, and only cut them into thin strips. The best models will micro-cut or cross-cut them.

Shredding Size

In our test lab, the Bonsaii DocShred yielded the smallest shreds of all our contenders. Only a highly motivated team of thieves could recover any meaningful information from the shreds created by its micro-cutter. If an individual or small-office customer deals in highly sensitive documents and wants the assurance of complete obliteration, the Bonsaii DocShred C560-D micro-cut shredder definitely fits the bill. There is a trade-off, however: total capacity. The Bonsaii's recommended maximum load is six sheets, but some users report difficulty processing more than three sheets per pass – and some pages had to be folded before they could fit into the feed chute.

How much will you shred at once?

Luckily for anyone who has to shred a lot of paper in one go, shredders process more than one sheet of paper at a time. The amount of sheets a paper shredder can deal with is referred to as "sheets per pass."

Smaller models may only be able to take on two to four sheets per pass, whereas more hardcore models can tackle 20 or more sheets per pass.

Some paper shredders can tackle whole multi-page documents, even when they're still held together with staples or paperclips. Not having to remove staples can save a lot of time when shredding a large volume of paperwork.

How long will your shredding session last?

All shredders have a run time or "duty cycle." This is how long the machine can operate continuously before switching off to cool down.

Smaller models designed for light home use may have duty cycles as short as two minutes, whereas units made for heavy-duty use may have duty cycles of 40 minutes or more.

We expected average results from what we perceived to be a very mid-line shredder in the AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper Shredder, but the results of our "maximum number of sheets per pass" test were pleasantly surprising. Although promoted as an 8-sheet model, the AmazonBasics actually handled a stack of 18 sheets before failure. This is a good indicator of motor power and cutting strength. However, during other procedures the testing lab also reported several paper jams that were difficult to fix. We do not recommend pushing this shredder beyond its stated limits!

Will you want multiple shredding sessions in quick succession?

As mentioned above, paper shredders need to cool down after each duty cycle. This probably isn't a big issue for home use (unless you like to save up items for shredding and tackle a large pile in one go), but for office use, a long cool down time can be prohibitive.

Most paper shredders have cool down periods between 20 and 40 minutes.

Royal
Fellowes
AmazonBasics
AmazonBasics
Bonsaii
Sheet Capacity, Tested
Fellowes
AmazonBasics
Royal
Bonsaii
AmazonBasics
Time to Shred 250 Sheets
Bonsaii
AmazonBasics
Royal
Fellowes
AmazonBasics
Noise (Tested 3 feet from product)

How fast do you need to shred documents?

Shredding speed is generally measured in feet per minute (FPM).

A home shredder can tackle between 5 and 10 FPM, on average, whereas heavy duty models designed for office use may be able to shred 30 FPM or more.

Micro-cut paper shredders tend to run at a smaller amount of feet per minute, since it takes longer to cut each sheet into tiny pieces, but what they lack in speed they make up for in security.

If you want to know how much paper a shredder can handle in a given timeframe, consider both the sheets per pass and the feet per minute.

Paper shredder tips

Want to shred like a pro? Check out these tips.

  • Keep an eye on the amount of paper in your shredder's waste basket. Overload it and you can damage the motor or cause jams. Models with a clear viewing window are invaluable.
  • Paper shredders with pull-out bins are much easier and more convenient to empty, compared to the kind where you have to lift the entire shredding mechanism off the waste bin.
  • Unless you only want to shred the odd document here and there, pay attention to the length of each paper shredder's duty cycle — some are frustratingly short.

Versatility

The Fellowes 79Ci cross-cut shredder has the versatility to handle both light- and heavy-duty assignments. A single sheet of paper flies through the feed chute into a generous, six-gallon storage bin. A clear window allows users to gauge the volume of shredded material as they create it. Beyond shredding paper, the Fellowes 79Ci easily cut through credit cards as well. Some shredders on our test list struggled to handle their manufacturer's recommended maximum capacity, but the Fellowes 79Ci easily processed a stack of 16 standard pages. We could not jam this shredder by overfeeding it because a sensor installed near the feed chute will not let it run a stack that's too thick for processing.

  • Most paper shredders are much more effective when you shred one or two sheets less than the maximum sheets per pass. So, if a shredder can tackle 12 sheets per pass, try feeding no more than 10 or 11 in one go.
  • If you have kids or pets, we recommend a model that has a safety shut-off feature. This automatically switches off the shredder if fingers or paws get too close to the blades.
  • Empty the waste bin of paper before shredding credit cards or CDs. Shredded paper is recyclable, whereas CDs and credit cards may not be (depending on your local recycling rules), and you don't want to spend hours picking chips of credit card out of a full bin of paper.
EXPERT TIP

Wax paper or foil sheets have an almost magical ability to sharpen the blades when run through the shredder.


Staff  | BestReviews

Average price of a paper shredder

You can find paper shredders to suit all budgets, but expect to pay significantly more for heavy-duty machines, compared to those designed for light use.

  • Basic Micro-Cut Shredders:

These can cost as little as $30 to $50, but the most inexpensive models will have extremely short duty cycles and will only be able to tackle a small amount of sheets per pass. Some are so compact you have to fold a sheet of A4 paper to fit it in.

  • Basic Cross-Cut Shredders:

These cost roughly $20 to $30. Even basic models are likely to take on more sheets per pass and have longer duty cycles than micro-cut shredders of a similar quality. Many can also deal with CDs and credit cards.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some machines won't let you turn the machine on with too many pages in the feeder. While this is nice to prevent jams, some users feel it inhibits them.

  • Mid-range Micro-Cut Shredders:

Expect to pay around $50 to $100 for one of these. These have much longer duty cycles and can shred more sheets at once than basic models, but most still won't be quite heavy-duty enough for office use.

  • Mid-range Cross-Cut Shredders:

These cost roughly $30 to $90. Most of these models are more than sufficient for home use, and some may even be fast and powerful enough for use in a small office.

  • High-end Micro-Cut Shredders:

These cost between $100 and $300. Those on the top end of the spectrum will have about all the extra features you can think of, plus a formidable duty cycle and sheets per pass, but even the less expensive models are more than enough shredder for all but the most heavy-duty environments.

  • High-end Cross-Cut Shredders:

These cost about $90 to $200 (though you can pay much more for commercial-grade models). These models have all the bells and whistles, shred quickly, can take on a large amount of sheets per pass, have long duty cycles, and fast cool down periods.

Clean out your paper shredder bin at frequent intervals, lubricate and sharpen the blades, and remove any lodged paper bits or pins from the machine to keep it working smoothly.

FAQ

Q. Are paper shredders safe to use?

A. Yes, paper shredders are very safe. Despite having extremely sharp blades inside, modern paper shredders boast a range of safety features, including guards to protect fingers, tucked away switches so you can't accidentally turn them, and automatic switch-off to avoid overheating.

Q. What extra features should I look out for in a paper shredder?

A. Some features aren't essential, but can be nice to have. If you want a top-notch shredder, here are some additional features to look for:

  • Overload protection (to avoid jamming)

  • Full wastebasket indicator

  • Quiet operation

  • Safety lockout

  • Manual reverse

  • Automatic document feeder

  • Pull-out bin

Q. How small will a paper shredder cut my documents?

A. This depends on which make and model of shredder you choose. There's no standard size for micro-cuts, cross-cuts, or strips, so you have to check the manufacturer's specifications for the exact dimensions.

5 features to consider when buying a paper shredder

Speed – if you have lots of employees shredding through numerous documents, it's important that your shredder keep up.
Power – consider what types of objects you will be shredding, like credit cards or CDs.
Capacity – if you don't want to empty out your shredder multiple times a day, look for one that has a bigger bin.
Ease of use – some shredders require you to remove the motor to empty the machine while others have slide-out bins.
Security – if you're shredding high-security pages, you'll want a machine that can guarantee no one can put the pieces back together.
The team that worked on this review
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Vukan
    Vukan
    Post Production Editor

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